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Miracle Baby

Roman Dinkel is a 2 y.o. boy with myelomeningocele, a congenital defect of the backbone and spinal cord.

The majority of children diagnosed with this severe form of spina bifida are terminated before birth.  At 25 weeks of gestation, however, Roman had surgery while still in the womb.  His parents were cautioned not to expect too much from the surgery.  But Roman is today able to walk with the aid of crutches.

His joy is infectious.

[1]  CBS News, “2 year-old who overcame the odds and learned to walk inspires millions” by Jeff Glor, 8/8/18,


Wealth and Safety

Gold bars. Author Stevebidmead. Source (CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication)

The world is not a safe place.

We may, at times, delude ourselves about that.  We may make material things our security blanket, convince ourselves that wealth and luxury translate into safety.  We may view self-assurance and independence as guarantees of success, confuse the strength God has lent us for our own.

But there will always be circumstances to teach us the foolishness of this.  Celebrities may have the means to buy mansions.  But despite his bank account, the rich man can lose a son.  Despite her jewels, the rich woman will grow old.  In the end, neither will escape death and judgment.

Worldly security is false.  It is temporary.  When we rely on it – especially to the detriment of those less fortunate – we miss out on God’s offer of real security.  And we misuse God’s gifts. Read more…

Refuge, Part 3

US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) processing unaccompanied minors at Texas border, Author Hector Silva, Source CBP (PD as work product of federal govt.)

You shall neither mistreat a stranger nor oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Ex. 22: 21).

A nation unquestionably has the right to maintain its borders.  There is an acknowledged distinction between illegal immigrants and legal refugees.  And the threat of terrorism is both real and substantial.

But there are issues related to immigration which have nothing to do with political affiliation or party loyalty, and everything to do with morality and adherence to law.


Both the UN Refugee Convention of 1951 and the US Refugee Act of 1980 provide that applicants for asylum are not to be returned to a place where their life or freedom is at risk [1A][2].

Forcible return (known as “refoulement”) is against international law.  Unlike political asylum, which applies only to those with a well-grounded fear of persecution, non-refoulement prohibits the return of any and all asylum seekers to war zones and disaster areas.

Despite that, Human Rights First has documented at least 125 cases in which Border Patrol agents unlawfully turned asylum seekers away without a hearing (some individuals many times over) [3A].

Other refugees are acknowledged to have been repatriated to countries with ongoing civil wars and/or extended disruptions in police protection [4A][8].

Penalizing Illegal Entry in Search of Asylum

Refugees must be at the border to apply for asylum; the law does not permit them to apply from a distance.

For that reason, the UN Refugee Convention expressly forbids parties like the United States from imposing penalties on refugees for irregular entry, if they present themselves to the authorities without delay [1B].  This is commonly interpreted to mean that illegal entry should not to be prosecuted.

In fact, the Board of Immigration Appeals (the highest immigration tribunal) has since 1987 consistently instructed immigration judges to forgive irregular entry [3B].

The Trump Administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy under which anyone who crosses the United States border will be prosecuted, therefore, flies in the face of settled law [5A].

Changing the Standard

Last month, Attorney General Jeff Sessions unilaterally changed the standard for asylum in two respects.

Sessions eliminated gender-based asylum claims (for instance, claims related to genital cutting) from consideration altogether; and raised the standard for asylum to require that an applicant’s home not only be unwilling or unable to protect him or her from harm, but that the government condone persecution by non-state actors [3].  This is a far higher standard of proof.

Separating Parents and Children

The United States has as many 10,000 children in detention – holding them at Dept. of Health & Human Services shelters an average of 56 days [6].

Typically, children who enter the country alone (“unaccompanied minors”) are released once a parent or guardian is properly identified [13].  Instead, some 3000 children were separated from their families at the border [4B][12]. Read more…

Refuge, Part 2

Aspiring migrant from Mexico into US at Tijuana-San Diego border. The crosses represent the deaths of failed attempts. Author Tomas Castelazo, copyright (c) Tomas Castelazo, (CC BY-SA 4.0 International)

However dire their economic situation may be, there is a critical distinction between migrants who illegally cross the border of the United States in search of employment, and refugees who legally present at the border seeking asylum on humanitarian grounds.  Those legally seeking asylum have violated no laws.

Building on the Past

Built on the earlier Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted at the close of WWII, the 1951 UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees is a multilateral treaty which defines what it means to be a refugee, and outlines the rights of individuals granted asylum [1][2][3].

“Refugee Defined”

The Refugee Convention defines a “refugee” as:

“A person who owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it.”

Limitation on Number of Refugees

The US Refugee Act of 1980 uses a similar definition, laying out explicit procedures for how to deal with refugees and setting a limit of 50,000 refugees/fiscal year (roughly 1 refugee/6500 Americans).

Together, the Refugee Convention, a subsequent 1967 Protocol which expanded its geographic and temporal reach, and the US Refugee Act of 1980 govern those legally seeking asylum [4A].  The United States, also, in 1977 signed (then in 1992 ratified) the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, giving it the status of federal law [8A]. Read more…

Refuge, Part 1

Displaced persons and refugees in Hamburg, Germany (1945), Author Sgt. J. Mapham, 5th Army, Film & Photographic Unit, Source Imperial War Museum, WWII Collection (PD as work of UK govt.)


Noun – A condition of being safe or sheltered from pursuit, danger or trouble.


Noun – The protection granted by a nation to someone who has left their native country as a political refugee.

From 1933 to 1941, the Nazi Regime pursued a policy of forced emigration against Jews, though Jews had lived in Germany for over 1000 years [1A][2].

More than 340,000 Jews fled Germany and Austria during this time.  Tragically, 100,000 of these refugees ultimately became victims of the Holocaust, having fled to European nations the Nazis shortly conquered.

Voyage of the St. Louis

Between March 1938 and September 1939, around 85,000 Jewish refugees managed to reach the United States.  They were not welcomed with open arms.

In one infamous incident, the United States refused entry to some 900 Jewish passengers on the St. Louis, a ship out of Hamburg, Germany.  With no other option, the St. Louis returned to Europe.  Some 40% of the St. Louis’ passengers later died in concentrations camps.

Due to national security concerns, the United States placed further restrictions on immigration in 1941.

The “Final Solution”

Then, in November 1942, American papers published news of the Nazis’ so called “Final Solution”.

As a result, the United States, Great Britain, and 10 other nations jointly issued a Declaration of Atrocities on December 17, 1942 [3A].  While this Declaration threatened punishment for Nazi horrors, it made no provision for refugees. Read more…

Suicide – To Be or Not To Be

Suicide prevention sign at Golden Gate Bridge, Author Tony Webster (CC BY-SA 4.0 International)

  • 22.5 million American adults have been diagnosed with cancer; 1.7 million will be added to that number this year alone [1].
  • Over 16 million Americans suffer from depression.  PTSD affects another 7.7 million [2].
  • More than 5 million Americans live with Alzheimer’s Disease [3].
  • 500,000 American adults and children have cerebral palsy [4].
  • Approximately 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, annually [5].
  • Over 20,000 Americans live with Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS).  Some 15 new cases are diagnosed daily [6].

Millions of Americans either suffer from, or serve as caregivers for loved ones with, a chronic illness.

There are those who argue that this is pointless and unnecessary suffering – physical and mental – which suicide could easily eliminate.  The suicide rate in the United States is, in fact, on the rise [7].  Designer, Kate Spade, and celebrity chef, Anthony Bourdain, were two recent examples.

Yet many sufferers choose not to take that path.  Why?

The Right to Take Our Lives

“There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide.”

-Albert Camus

The German philosopher, Arthur Schopenhauer, argued that man has an unassailable right to his own person.  Christians, however, take a different view.  We believe that title to our hearts, minds, and bodies belongs to God.

We may despair in the lonely hours of the night.  Christians are not immune from that human tendency.

The thought of suicide may – as Friedrich Nietzsche observed – be a consolation at such moments.  Suicide is, however, a poor solution to the dilemma of existence in a flawed world.

A So Called “Noble” Choice

“To be, or not to be?  That is the question – Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, And, by opposing, end them?”

-William Shakespeare, Hamlet

Shakespeare posed the now famous question of whether it is “nobler” to endure suffering or end it.

Our society sees no value in suffering; tends to view suffering, itself, as immoral.  We may come to despise this flesh, and the ailments to which it is prone.  But to equate death with virtue is to mask reality.

Life is a priceless gift.  Human beings have value, whether they are physically and mentally “perfect” or not.

Anger at God

“Suicide is man’s way of telling God, ‘You can’t fire me – I quit.’ ”

-Bill Maher, comedian

The novelist, Honore de Balzac, called suicide a “suitable key to the mystery of life for a skeptical society.”  Certainly, those who pursue it – believers and non-believers alike – will rapidly find themselves face to face with an Almighty God, all questions about His existence resolved.

Admittedly, anger may figure in the decision to commit suicide.  We may feel we have reached the limits of our endurance, and blame God for the trials which have besieged us.

Certainly, illness can deprive us of dignity.  It need not, however, deprive us of hope. Read more…

Cash Crop – Child Labor on the Farm

Children threshing corn during school hours (1915), Library of Congress National Child Labor Committee Collection (Digital ID nclc.00246), Author Hine, Lewis Wickes (PD, life plus 70)

“Agriculture is one of the most dangerous industries in the nation.  Each year, more than 2 million youth under the age of 20 are exposed to farm-related safety hazards.  As a result, a significant number of young people are killed, injured or permanently disabled on farms in the United States.”

-OSHA [1]

About 13.4 million children live in rural America [2].

As a group, rural children have somewhat lower rates of poverty than their urban cousins [3].  The median income of rural households is only slightly less than that of urban households ($52,386 as compared with $54,296).  By comparison, a higher percentage of rural homes are mortgage-free (44% as compared with 32.3%).

However, the Fair Labor Standards Act allows farms to employ children as young as 12 y.o. with the written permission of a parent (or if a parent is employed on the same farm) [4A].

Child Labor on the Farm

The Child Labor Coalition of the National Consumers League estimates there are 300,000 to 400,000 child workers in U.S. agriculture.  The highly lucrative tobacco industry, in particular, benefits from this.

Children of any age can work on the farm of a parent or guardian [4B].  Those 12 y.o. and younger need not be paid minimum wage, but are not permitted to work during the school day.  Those 16 y.o. may work for an unlimited number of hours, even at tasks considered hazardous, like operating a hay baler.

Unfortunately, enforcement of these standards is largely absent.  Violations are not closely monitored and rarely penalized.  Children as young as 8 y.o. and 10 y.o. can be found working beside men in their 30s and 40s. Read more…

Do You Know Him?

Face of Jesus in art (PD-Art, Old-100)

In architecture, He planned all things before time began (Isaiah 46: 10; 2 Timothy 1: 9), and is the architect of the city of God (Hebrews 11: 10).
In astronomy, He is the Dayspring (Luke 1: 78), the Bright and Morning Star (Revelation 22: 16).
In banking, He is the Redeemer (Job 19: 25), who forgave our sin debt (Matthew 6: 12).
In biology, He is the Son of Mary (Mark 6: 3), and the only begotten Son of God (John 3: 16), born without the normal conception (Luke 1: 34-35).
In brewing, He turned water into wine (John 2: 1-11).
In cartography, He is the way (John 14: 6).
In chemistry, He is living water (John 4: 10).
In economics, He disproved the law of diminishing returns by feeding 5000 with five loaves and two fishes (Matthew 14: 19-21).
In education, He is called Rabbi (Mark 11: 21), Rabboni (John 20: 16), and Teacher (John 3: 2).
In electronics, He is the light of the world (John 8: 12).
In engineering, He is the Maker (Psalm 121: 2; Psalm 146: 6; John 1: 3), who stretched out the heavens (Isaiah 48: 13) and laid the foundations of the earth (Job 38: 4).
In equestrianism, He is the rider on the white horse (Revelation 19: 11).
In fire rescue, He is the Savior (John 4: 42), who rescued us from hell.
In floristry, He is the rose of Sharon (Song of Solomon 2; 1); and the lily of the valleys (Song of Solomon 2: 1).
In funeral science, He is the Resurrection and the Life (John 11: 25).
In gemology, He is the pearl of great price (Matthew 13: 45-46).
In geology, He is the Rock (1 Corinthians 10: 4).
In government, He is called King of kings and Lord of lords (1 Timothy 6: 15), the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9: 6).
In herding, He is the Good Shepherd (John 10: 11), and the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world (John 1: 29).
In history, He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and end (Revelation 22: 13).
In horticulture, He is the Root (Isaiah 11: 10), the Branch (Isaiah 11: 1), and the true vine (John 15: 1).
In law, He is our judge (Acts 10: 42), our mediator (1 Timothy 2: 5), the Faithful and True Witness (Revelation 3: 14), and our greatest Advocate (1 John 2: 1).
In literature, He is the Word (John 1: 1), the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12: 2).
In masonry, He is the chief cornerstone (Ephesians 2: 20).
In medicine, He is the Healer (Exodus 15: 26), who cured the sick and blind without drugs or surgery.
In nutrition, He is the bread of life, and none who come to Him will ever hunger again (John 6: 35).
In philosophy, He is the truth (John 14: 6).
In physics, He is the Creator (Isaiah 40: 28; Colossians 1: 16), who brought the world into existence, then disproved the law of gravity by ascending into heaven (Acts 1: 9).
In prophecy, He is Immanuel (Matthew 1: 23), the Messiah (Daniel 9: 25).
In psychology, He is the Wonderful Counselor (Isaiah 9: 6).
In religion, He is the Beloved (Ephesians 1: 6), the bridegroom (Matthew 9: 15), the head of the church (Ephesians 5: 23), and the High Priest (Hebrews 6: 20).
In seafaring, He is the anchor of our souls (Hebrews 6: 19).
In theology, He is the Holy One (Mark 1: 24), the Son of the Living God (Matthew 16: 16); no one comes to the Father except through Him (John 14: 6).
In woodworking, He is the carpenter (Mark 6: 3), and the door (John 10:9).
In zoology, He is the Lion of the tribe of Judah (Revelation 5: 5).

The greatest man who ever lived, He made Himself the Servant to all (Matthew 12: 18, Mark 9: 35).
He had no army, yet was feared by kings.
He won no military battles, yet conquered the world (John 16: 33).
He committed no crime (Luke 23: 4), yet was crucified.
He was buried in a tomb, yet lives today (Job 19: 25)!
He is Jesus Christ!

– Author Unknown

Originally posted 1/26/14



india child

Photo: Poverty in India (CC0 Public Domain)

“Mudlarks” was a 19th Century term for street children who survived by scavenging amid the mud along the River Thames.  A British film titled The Mudlark (1950) told the fictional tale of how one such child – a boy named Wheeler – supposedly found his way into Queen Victoria’s presence [1].

The speech below is attributed to Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli in the film.  In view of prevailing conditions today, the words retain their poignancy and power.

Some 15 million children still live in poverty in the United States, a billion worldwide [2][3].  Two million children die annually from preventable diseases like diarrhea and pneumonia because of a lack of basic medical care.  Over 44 million have been aborted legally in the United States alone [4][5].

“The House of Commons may be a strange place to discuss the conduct of a mudlark.  But it is perhaps the best of all places to examine certain aspects of this particular mudlark’s conduct.  For here they are placed not only before the honorable members but also before the entire nation.

Now I confess I am as puzzled as anyone by some of the mystery of young Wheeler.  How did he manage to reach the age of 10 in the face of all that we did to prevent it?

I ask you to think how hard society tried to kill him.  It laid an ambush for him at his birth, surrounding his cradle with rats and vermin.  It sent gases…to pollute the air he breathed, tried to poison his mother’s milk through her drinking water, but only succeeded in poisoning his mother.  She died of typhus before he could walk, according to the police investigation.

As there is no record of a father, his government was spared the necessity of a second murder in the same family.

So now that he was an orphan – alone, defenseless and entirely at the mercy of his country – it went further.  It attacked his spirit and his soul.  It taught him nothing.  It withheld the word of God from him.  In the end, it sent him into the Thames to be a mudlark – barefoot and clothed in the merest rags, subject daily to cold and damp and fever – and in the warrens and lanes of the waterfront exposed him to the worst influences of immorality and evil, and most final of all it denied him hope.

Now as a result of this indifference and cruelty there seems to have developed in this small boy an unnatural attitude toward England.  Unnatural because in spite of all that it has done to him, he seems to love it.

Read more…

Sylvester’s Story

Sylvester found himself in a situation often faced by the clients of Christian Legal Clinics of Philadelphia.  Though he had done nothing wrong, Sylvester was being sued and did not know what to do.  Without legal help, he could have lost his family’s home. The video above tells the full story.

Though I am not affiliated with Christian Legal Clinics of Philadelphia (and derive no benefit from donations), I was one of the group of Christian attorneys who founded the predecessor organization.

Thousands of hours of legal assistance have been provided to clients free of charge, in the years that have passed.  Attorneys volunteer their time in destitute areas of Philadelphia for the love of God and love of neighbor.

But Christian Legal Clinics of Philadelphia does more than just provide legal assistance.  Host organizations like the Salvation Army address the food, clothing, and shelter needs of clients.  All staff share the Gospel.

By giving to Christian Legal Clinics of Philadelphia you can make a real difference in the lives of the poor.  Please, consider donating at

Whether or not you are able to give, keep the men and women of this ministry in your prayers.  It remains dear to my heart.

May God bless you.