Sarah’s Testimony

I receive emails from Dads and Moms that have taken or are currently enrolled in the Training Hearts for Jesus biblical parenting class.  It is such an encouragement to read how the lives of these families are being transformed with the application of God’s Word through this class.  Here’s a peek at one of the emails I received recently.  I hope you are as encouraged as I was :0).

Sarah and her Family

Sarah's Group

Hi Sharon,

I wrote a little story about my day today on my blog and linked it to the Training Hearts for Jesus website. I hope that’s alright with you. If you’d like to read it you’re more than welcome to. www.fitzlife.com

Also, just a little testimony here… A few months ago Ben spent the night at his cousin’s house and it was not the best evening for my sister-in-law. It wasn’t awful, but it was a lot of work. Last week Ben was invited to go to Legoland for his cousin’s birthday. I was a little nervous because I wouldn’t be there to help (read: micro manage) Ben’s behavior and the last thing I wanted was for him to be a burden for my brother and sis-in-law during Gavin’s special day. Mark and I have really been working on training Ben’s heart in certain areas (think first-born traits) so it was with a lot of prayer and conversations with Ben that I sent him off on this really fun day. I talked at length with Carrie (sis-in-law) after they got home and these words about brought tears to my eyes; she said, “Ben was a joy, really, a delight. He was completely different from the boy who spent the night a few months ago. He was compliant and agreeable, even when he didn’t get his way. When Gavin chose to do an activity Ben went along with it without complaining or trying to be the boss.” Praise the Lord! God is so good, and so faithful. I just wanted to share that with you so you and Mario can be encouraged that your time serving through THFJ is not in vain and He is absolutely using your wisdom to build His kingdom.

Blessings to you…

Sarah

P.S. This is by no means saying our work is done… I think we will be training hearts in our house, unless Jesus returns, for at least 18 more years. 🙂

Training Hearts is Touching Little Hearts

The babies that Regina speaks of in this following email are healed and healthy, thanks to many of your prayers.  I thought you would enjoy hearing how Training Hearts played a part in the divine intervention for the welfare of these little ones.  In the mean time, Regina and I, and so many others, are still praying that these babies will receive a permanent home with a mommy and daddy who will love them.  Please read on:

Email Update:

Ok Sharon, this is the story of how I met these special babies!! You are going to love this one!

One of the ladies in out Training Hearts class came to our one on one sessio very distraught.  Her 18 year old daughter was pregnant and miscarrying.  This family was on the verge of being evicted from their home because neither this woman nor her husband are working (remember zim has a 90% unemployment rate) and couldn’t afford medical care for her daughter who claimed to be  2-3 months pregnant and miscarrying.  We helped with the medical needs of the daughter (dr visit and medicines) and a couple of weeks later this mother called me and asked if I would come to Harare Hospital with her after class because her daughter Florence had given birth to a premature baby, she had actually been 7 months pregnant and the baby weighed 1.1kg!!

I went with her to the hospital and while I was awaiting permission to go into the room with the incubators I made friends with the nurses.

I asked about the babies across the hall and she told me they were dumped babies and took me in to see them. There were 5 gorgeous babies at that time! The youngest was a 3 days old (left for adoption he was the product of incest and rape) the oldest is Evans. He 10 months old and had never been outside the hospital since the day he was born and dumped on the side of the road.  He still sleeps in The plastic tray that newborns are brought to their mothers in, except he’s getting so big that now he likes to lounge with his legs over the sides!

Each of them had a heartbreaking story that so speaks to the desperation and lack of hope in this nation. I loved them all instantly, but all four of us that were there that day (myself, Nyasha and 2 pastors) agreed that little Kelsey (2 months old, HIV +) was the most beautiful thing we had ever seen. She is so special.  She was found dumped in a maize field and brought to the hospital by social welfare.  She is always happy and smiling and just brings joy to everyone.  She is very light skinned and because she was found in a neighborhood that is known for being “colored” (what mixed raced people are called in zim) they assume that she is probably colored as well.

I came daily to pray with Florence and her premature baby boy (she named him Nyasha and they are doing so well health wise) and would stop in to hold the babies in that room as the nurses from NICU are so busy.

All of the babies are amazing and I have grown to love all of them.  They all light up now when they are held (before it was not that way) and they love to be loved on.

Last weekend the 2 big boys (Evans 10 months and Edward 6 months) had been retested for HIV because they both tested positive at birth and 6 months. This 3rd test cameback negative for both of them! We all celbrated last Sunday when the nurses read the results. But, even as we were celebrating we noticed the babies weren’t feeling well. Edward had a fever of 40 and Evans had a temp of 39. The doctor came to see them and started them on antibiotics. 4 days after having his HIV status changed to negative Edward went home to be with Jesus. He was so very lovely. He laughed all the time and was so proud of himself when we would hold him up in a sitting position, these babies are so developmentally delayed because they lay flat on their backs all day.  I was so shocked and devastated by the news, because he literally died from lack of medical treatment, and yet he has lives his entire life in a hospital.

Evans was still presenting similar symptoms and Kelsey began to as well. Thursday when Edward died I finally threw a temper tantrum with social welfare and demanded that the babies receive medical treamtment or allow us to take them somewhere so that they could be properly treated.  I have kind of filled you in on the rest of the battles with the healthcare.

I just love the way God works. Most people dont realize That there are so many abandoned babies. I am just so grateful that because of training hearts we have met these babies and can stand in the gap for them and fight for them!!!  God is so good. I have several familieswho are interested in adopting and are going to come and visit!! A family who wants to adopt Kelsey was supposed to come see her on Sunday, but we have to postpone until she’s feeling better. Please continue to pray for her and all the babies. We meet more and more of them each day.

Love, Regina Jones, Rock of Africa

Training Hearts for Zimbabwe!

Regina Jones

Gigi in Zimbabwe

Regina Jones is one of the most incredible missionaries I have ever met.  She is young, single and gave up everything to serve the Lord in His call for her to reach the people of Zimbabwe, Africa for Christ.  Knowing that the knowledge of Christ must continue through a life of learning God’s Word and sanctification, Regina began looking for a biblically driven parenting curriculum that would bring the necessary discipleship into the homes of these hurting families.  That’s when she contacted us at Training Hearts for Jesus.  Here are two very exciting email updates that will give you a glimpse into the impact that Training Hearts for Jesus, as orchestrated by Regina, is having on these precious families in Zimbabwe.  Before you read, I want you to know that you can help provide Regina with the necessary curriculum.  If you will consider doing this, please email me at ContactUs@traininghearts.org.

Email 1:

Hi Sharon,
Well Training Hearts for Jesus, Highfields is going full swing!  We are meeting Mondays and Fridays and people are so committed! They love it!  The family situations are heartbreaking and so I am meeting with each family individually this week to get to know them and to see how we can help.  Some of the women/families I am going to have to meet with on a weekly basis, but God is really moving.
This week a man (who doesn’t come to the class because of work) came to meet the pastor who’s place we are doing the class at and said “Pastor Lovejoy, things at home are different, I think it’s because what my wife is learning in that class, so thank you.” HA! Already! I am telling you, I think we are going to see miracles! The teaching on marriage was DIFFICULT, but SO GOOD! We have about a 35% rate of marital fidelity in class… this is heartbreaking but I think pretty common for Zim, so we are talking A LOT about that!
Talking about how the family unit is the unit for change in a family/tribe/community and nation has been so inspiring.  So many people complain about the condition in this nation, and are praying for a governmental change, when they are unwilling to even change a simple behavior/thought pattern in their home.  There was an awakening in class when we started talking about the results of marital unfaithfulness.  At one point I said, “you all wrote that HIV is a major issue in your family [because so many people have to raise nieces and nephews and other relatives  because of the high rate of HIV orphans] but your government will not eradicate AIDS, but living our sex life the way God commands, certainly will” and you could have cut the tension with a knife… BUT, the majority of the class has said that they never thought about the connection between adultery and HIV—CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT?!?
Please be praying for us, we have about 40 families in the class at this point, I will get you the exact numbers next week.  We even have some pastors (praise God) and 5 students from the school of ministry are being allowed to take the class as an elective!! Imagine if pastors can catch this material and the concepts! Sharon, you are certainly having an impact in Zimbabwe at the moment!
Please be praying for me, the class is TIME CONSUMING! It is hard because so many of the families are in such distress, but I know that God is moving and I love seeing their faces light up when they catch one of the concepts! We are also laughing a lot in class, which I think is really nice for the ladies in class who don’t seem to have many friends! We are building a community, which is probably the most important part!
I think the students from the school of ministry (who are fairly educated and read well in English) will need the curriculums.  I am probably going to need a few more as well.  So there are 6 students, and I will need maybe 4 more curriculums if possible.  I really need another copy of the DVD’s because mine are pretty scratched from all the African dust in the dvd players! Some of the sections do not play well at all!  Please let me know how we can work that out!
Another exciting announcement is that Nyasha started the school of ministry, he is one of the students in the class and he seems to be pretty interested in the material which is really nice!
I know you were super busy with the end of the school year, but I hope that everything is going well and that you are enjoying the beginning of summer! It is winter here and I am tired of feeling cold already!
Love you!
Regina

Email 2:

Families of Zimbabwe

Families of Zimbabwe

Training Hearts for Jesus, Highfields is a HUGE SUCCESS! The parents are committed and we are seeing changes already!  Because of the testimonies from the parents at church and in the neighborhoods people are coming every day asking to sign up for the class, so we are going to have to start another class very soon!!! I am so excited about that!
This week in class (we meet every Monday and Friday) we were talking about the heart of behavior.  (Last Friday) as we went over the material, I try not to get frustrated with how long it takes to teach each thing…. And I am trying to remember that some of this is so important, that if we don’t get it, the rest of the information will be lost, I could see some of the parents with tears in their eyes.  We were talking about the heart as the most important thing.  We took time to stop for questions and when we did, rather than questions (which we usually have so many of them because so much can be lost in translation) we had a lot of conviction.  Parents aching to share what the Holy Spirit was convicting them about.  It was unbelievable.  We had to go WAY over, so that people could keep sharing their hearts and so that we could talk about the difference between condemnation and conviction.  It was SO powerful.
One of the pastors who had been encouraged to come to the class by his mentor, but had not regularly attended came up to me after and said, “I have not taken this class seriously, because n my culture parenting is for the women to talk about and is something that we do haphazardly at best, but I was so convicted today about what I did with my own children.  I will not miss another class, I need this for myself and we need to teach this to our nation.  We cannot keep using culture as an excuse to teach our children ungodly ways”  I was overwhelmed!
We had women share that because they were ashamed of how their daughter had sex so young, they even encouraged them to have abortions, many times leading to death because of infection (abortion is illegal in Zimbabwe so it is done in very unclean and unsafe ways).
We had many parents convicted that they had been more concerned about their child’s education at school than about the growth of their hearts.  People saying that they never thought to read the Bible or pray with their children, because it is so hard to get them to sit still.
Oh Sharon, this class, more than any other has been so difficult to teach and yet the parents ARE grasping the material!  They want to do better.  When we meet for our one on one sessions, they come with questions, examples and they want to know how to make their home a more godly environment. Thank you so much for all you have done for me and for the people of Zimbabwe.  This curriculum is making a huge difference!
I was asked to teach Bible school on Sunday and we started memorizing Matthew 22:37,39 with the kids.  Some of their parents are in the class and they said the kids were trying to teach them and quiz them on the verse!  I love it!
As a side note, I had a terrible flu this week.  I woke up Thursday morning not feeling well and by Friday afternoon I wasn’t sure if I ‘d be able to make it through class, of course.  I prayed about it and felt very clearly that I was to still have class, as much as I wanted to cancel!! But God is so good, and I did make it through class, and Sunday School and class on Monday.  It is now Wednesday and I am starting to feel a bit better, almost human.  My stomach issues seem to be settling down, but I am so glad I didn’t cancel class, I see now  that it was really important to push through!
How are things going on your side? Are you enjoying the summer yet?
With lots of love,
Regina
If you would like to support Regina Jones, go to Rock of Africa.

Backwards Obedience

John 14:15  If you love me you will keep my commandments.

Many times this verse is read and understood in reverse.  We are so conditioned in this world to think that we must do in order to get. So, we read this verse like this:

If you keep my commandments, then I will know that you love Me.

In reality, we cannot possibly do enough of anything to give anything to God.  That was the whole point of Him sending His precious Son to the earth to die for our sins.  If we could do (in this case, work) in order to get (in this case, salvation), then Christ’s death was in vain and we have no need for a Savior.  Of course, as disciples of Jesus Christ, we desperately know we need Him to be our Savior!  Therefore, it is our complete reliance on our Savior, and our humble acceptance of Jesus that prompts us to respond in joyful gratitude and good works for the redemption, forgiveness, and salvation that is freely given to us through Christ’s work on the cross.

So, while it is important to teach our children obedience to the Lord and to daddy and mommy, it is imperative that we are not confused.  We do not want to inadvertently mislead our children into the misconception that their relationship with Christ can be earned through works.  When we are training the hearts of our children to be obedient to Jesus, we must be very careful not to imply or send the message to our children that their obedience or good works is what they do to prove to themselves and those around them that they love Jesus.  Amazingly, this could promote pride…the very sin that could harden their hearts and keep them from a relationship with God.  Instead, we must help them understand that when they do something good or make an obedient choice, it came as a result of the fruit of the love of Christ in them, as we are not able to do good in and of ourselves.  We want them to be God-reliant, not self-reliant.

Phil 2:13  For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose.

This gives us cause to rejoice with our children when they do good, thanking God for His perfect grace and love in us.  His goodness in us becomes our blessing both for ourselves and for those around us.  When we see our children obey and do good, let’s help them to give glory to God!  Let’s be happy for them as they learn that goodness is a reflection of the love of Christ.  Sometimes….once in a while….it is even fun to celebrate obedience and goodness with an ice cream.  Cherish the simple times and moments of celebrating God’s love with your children and watch how they fall in love with Jesus!

John 14:12  Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in Me will also do the works that I do.

Sharon Cannavo
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