Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Sweet Sleep Goes ORANGE!

You've heard of going green, now Sweet Sleep is going Orange! This week. thousands of children's ministers, youth ministers, pastors and missions pastors will descend upon Atlanta for the Orange Conference - hosted by Northpoint Community Church/Re:Think Group. I've tried to go to this conference before and its never worked out. I actually got a free pass one time from Reggie Joiner, the Children's Pastor at Northpoint, for getting a speeding ticket with 3 other children's ministers in my car at a conference at Group Publishing in Loveland, Colorado. But we'll save that story for another time. :)

Sweet Sleep is honored to be part of the Social Justice Village at Orange. This is a special interactive display area for organizations that fight for justice for the poor. Stuart and I can't wait to get down there and introduce these churches to the life-changing ministry of Sweet Sleep and our vision to tirelessly and passionately pursue the goal of providing "a bed for every head." If you're in Atlanta this week, stop by the Gwinnett Center and see us! We'll have our bed from an actual Moldovan orphanage, new information about our work in Uganda and more! We hope to post pictures here upon our return, and I hope this time I don't get any speeding tickets. :)

Thank you for your support of our ministry! Tell some friends about Sweet Sleep today...

jon merryman

Friday, April 17, 2009

Be an answer to prayer. Be a part of history.

Hello friends!

Many of you came to the screening of the new Invisible Children documentary Wednesday night and many others sent notes to us telling about their desire to be a part of this. SO, let me help you with that.

Below are 23 ways to DO SOMETHING. If you're reading this, there's no reason you can't be involved in helping to save these children. There's a part of the IC documentary that says if you read about these children or see the movie and DON'T do something, you are part of the problem. That's pretty convicting....

In short, there are TWO IMMEDIATE things happening and all sorts of ways to help these children. 1) Sweet Sleep is providing mattresses, blankets and mosquito netting for children who are former child soldiers and have escaped Kony's child army (see the bottom of the previous post for how little it takes to give these children a place to be comforted). 2) NEXT SATURDAY, April 25th, you can be a part of history in the making by joining Sweet Sleep and countless others who will walk from Centennial Park to Bicentennial Mall for something called "The Rescue of Joseph Kony's child soldiers". See #23 for info and message us at Sweet Sleep.

And now.....options for you to DO SOMETHING and SAVE A CHILD:

What can I do??

I’m so, so very glad you have asked.

Here are some ways.

1) Forward this blog to everyone you’d forward emails to.

2) Tell others. Educate everyone you know about the orphaned and abandoned children in the world and encourage them to partner with Sweet Sleep to help.

3) Join Sweet Sleep’s Facebook Cause.

4) Once you’ve joined the Cause, invite your friends to join and tell them why.

5) If you’re in Nashville, come to our screening of the Invisible Children’s newest 30 minute documentary, the Rescue of Joseph Kony’s Child Soldiers, on April 15th at 7 pm.

6) If you’d like to travel to southern Uganda this July to build beds for two orphanages, come to an information meeting on April 15th at 6 pm or email Stuart at stuart@sweetsleep.org

7) Commit to pray. Visit Sweet Sleep’s website (www.sweetsleep.org) and sign up to receive our monthly prayer email.

8) Visit the “Orphanage Profiles” on Sweet Sleep’s website http://www.sweetsleep.org/getinvolved/profiles.html to see if you might be able to commit to giving or raising funding for one of orphanage projects listed there.

9) If you keep a blog, share the information you’re learning as well as the opportunities for action with those who read your thoughts.

10) Give financially in order to provide beds, bedding and mosquito nets for orphaned children.

11) Once you figure out what you can give, ask yourself what you can live without to give hope and life to those who have never, never experienced it. Then, give again.

12) Plan to give. Whether it’s through simple planned giving, donating a car or recurring monthly support, contact Sweet Sleep to talk about which level fits best for you. Do so and make change happen.

13) Know an artist or speaker who would want to advocate for orphans? Sweet Sleep has a program unique for them. Contact our office for more information.

14) Sign up. Go to www.sweetsleep.org and sign up for our monthly email newsletter so you can continue to stay informed.

15) Volunteer. http://www.sweetsleep.org/getinvolved/volunteer.html

16) Check Sweet Sleep’s website or your company’s HR department to find out if your company is among the thousands who match their employee’s charitable giving. If so, your giving to orphans could easily be doubled! http://www.sweetsleep.org/getinvolved/individual.html

17) Work in your church’s VBS? Use Sweet Sleep’s Build-a-Bed program as your mission moments of VBS week to educate children in America about millions of boys and girls like them all over the world. http://www.sweetsleep.org/getinvolved/buildabed.html

18) Advocate for change. Call or write your elected officials. Tell them that you care about the issue of child soldiers. Keep telling them. Get information from www.invisiblechildren.com on how to engage in political action and advocacy.

19) Become a bedhead. http://www.sweetsleep.org/getinvolved/bedhead.html

20) Orphan Powered Campuses. Start a group at your school or university, and make sure your campus flexes their voice for these forgotten children and youth.

21) Got INSOMNIA? Plan an overnight INSOMNIA lock in where you and your friends will learn about what it’s like to be one of the 210 million children in the world who are orphaned or abandoned. http://www.sweetsleep.org/getinvolved/insomnia.html

22) Do what you love. Use your talents to help orphans. Do an art project and display it in a public place. Use a sports event to raise awareness and funds for the issue. Talk about the issue at a concert, or make it a benefit for orphans. Film a movie on the state of today’s orphaned, abandoned and vulnerable children. Write about the issue and post it on your social networks.

23) Take a Stand for These Children. Sweet Sleep is partnering with Invisible Children, eXile International and Paulos to spread the word about and help these children in Northern Uganda. Attend "The Rescue" - An evening event held April 25th in cities around the world where we will "abduct" ourselves to raise the banner for the child soldiers taken by Joseph Kony - the leader of the LRA and cause of so much pain and heartache for the children of Uganda. Stop by our table tonight or visit therescue.invisiblechildren.com to sign up. If you're in Nashville, you can join Sweet Sleep President and Founder, Jennifer Gash, at our local event. For more information, contact us.

Have other ideas to share? Great! As you’ve read or seen…one person really does make a difference. Share them with us and help us encourage and equip others! Send them to info@sweetsleep.org. Also, be sure to email us and let us know which you are deciding to do. Remember, a child's life depends on whether you take the time to care.

See you in the next blog,

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

formerly Invisible....to me. What about to you?

Sometimes, if you don't know how to help or what to do, the injustice of the world can leave us feeling overwhelmed and hopeless. So, instead of responding, we do nothing because we just don't know how to process the hurting or don’t know anything we can do that can make a difference.

This blog should help with all of that.

Years ago I heard about the “Invisible Children”. That’s pretty much about it. I heard about them. I don’t think I could have told you which African country the children lived in. I don’t think I could have told you why they were “Invisible”. I don’t think I could have told you anything about them, except for that they were children who fled from their villages each day at dusk to a “safe” place so they wouldn’t be abducted by rebels and forced into a life of being a child soldier. I considered the notion----that single sentence---to be all I needed to know. Now I just sit here shaking my head as I type that.

I suppose I thought that because I didn’t know how to get more information. I suppose I also thought that because my plate was full with the needs of children in one country that already was so far away from me and I didn’t know how I could help these children, even if I knew more information.

Again, I’m just shaking my head.

Our new work in Uganda has helped me to learn about the plight of these “Invisible Children”, and now we are finding God has placed Sweet Sleep in a place where we are able to meet the immediate needs of His hurting children. Let me share with you…

These children…..the invisible children are also known as “night commuters” or “child soldiers”. More than 20 years ago a man named Joseph Kony was trying to gain political power in Uganda. He was unsuccessful in his attempts and, evilly, began massacring northern Ugandans and abducting their children to force them into his army. During the last two decades, the men, women and children of northern Uganda have lived in unimaginable fear of night attacks on their homes and villages.

It’s hard to understand how a human could be so evil. It’s impossible to imagine the torture these children suddenly find themselves living in. I won’t share with you the ways in which these massacres are performed because they are too horrid to explain or even imagine. Children are forced…and I mean FORCED to torture and murder their families and others or risk being tortured themselves. It. Is. Unimaginable.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) exists to prosecute those involved in war crimes and crimes against humanity. According to the ICC, Joseph Kony is at the top of their most wanted list. The ICC calls this 20+ year war, the most horrific war ever. Think about that for a minute.

Just a few short years ago three college age guys from Southern California went to Uganda with nothing more than $300, a video camera and dreams of finding a good story to make a film about. What they actually stumbled across were these children….commuting at night in order to protect their lives. They were shocked. They asked questions. Their lives changed. As a result, countless lives have changed. Sweet Sleep is now a part of that…and you can be, too.

Through the brave work and unrelenting efforts of these three college guys, the world has become aware of the struggles of a nation…of a continent. They invited their friends to get involved. They rallied in DC and talked with Senators and anybody who would listen. And you know what, something amazing happened. People listened. The government responded. And because of people DOING SOMETHING instead of listening and then going on with their life or ignoring it and acting like it wasn’t happening because it was happening so far away, lives have been saved. Men, women and children. Mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, grandparents….saved.

Sweet Sleep always encourages our friends to go, give or pray. I probably cannot encourage you enough NOW to do SOMETHING. We are ALL needed.

Here’s something else you probably haven’t heard about in the news.

Last April…almost one year ago these college guys, the UN, officials from surrounding countries and a specially appointed White House representative gathered in northern Uganda. Kony had finally agreed to peace. Over several days they waited. Kony never showed came to meet with them. The peace talks failed. Kony vowed to continue.

This past December, Christmas Day 2008, Kony surfaced in the Congo massacring hundreds of people and abducting hundreds more---mostly children. The Congo had never seen anything like it. No one in Congo can understands what has happened. And how could they?

Back in northern Uganda thousands of children who have escaped are trying to figure out what to do next; most of their families have been killed others have families who think they’ve been killed. Once again, their lives are filled with heartache. This is where we can help.

Children….thousands of children…are living in refugee camps called IDP camps (Internally Displaced People) in northern Uganda. The government is burning down their huts because the camps continue to bring unwanted attention to Uganda and they want the children to move elsewhere. Just over a week ago nearly 100 children found themselves homeless, again, after their huts were burnt down.

Sweet Sleep is partnering with an organization which is building safe homes for these orphans which are two hours south of the danger of northern Uganda. There is an immediate need for these children to have mattresses, blankets and mosquito nets. This is where we can help.

Let me encourage you in three ways:
1) Come to tonight's information meeting for the July trip to Uganda to build beds for two orphanages. Now, this won't be anywhere near the area I've been telling you about, but some of the children who've managed to flee from Kony are being sent to orphanages around the country, so it's likely we'll have the opportunity to share healing and hope and love with these, and so many other, children.

2) Attend tonights screening of Invisible Children's, "The Rescue of Joseph Kony's child soldiers" to educate yourself and see how you can get involved. It's easier than you think. And, more important than you can even imagine. 7 pm--Brentwood Baptist Church Room 1150a.

3) You have an opportunity, right now, to contribute financially toward mattresses, blankets and mosquito nettings for the former child soldiers who have recently had their huts burnt in the refugee camps and are now waiting to have safe shelter in a new location where they will be loved and nurtured.

Sweet Sleep is partnering with Village of Hope, Uganda to provide mattresses, blankets and mosquito netting for these sweet orphans. The children often share mattresses due to space, so the immediate need is only for 40 sets of bedding. Can you help provide for these children?
To provide these items, go to www.sweetsleep.org/donate and put "Gulu" in the comments box or mail your check, payable to Sweet Sleep, to PO Box 157, Brentwood, TN 37024, and put "Gulu" in the memo line.

Mosquito Nets
$5 each



A whole bed for this child

So much more to say.....

See you in the next blog,

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Moldovan Election Recount Wednesday, April 15th

Another update from Moldova...

An election recount, requested by current Moldovan President Vladamir Voronin, will take place tomorrow, Wednesday, April 15th. Those in opposition to the Communist Party have vowed to take no part in the recount as the counting of the votes was not the problem - the problem was the votes themselves -- voters intimidated to vote for the Communist Party, voter fraud, dead people voting, etc. A Reuters article posted today has more information. http://www.reuters.com.

Right now, the situation is calm and protests are peaceful. The children and orphanage staff we work with are safe, as are our minsitry partners and in-country staff.

Please pray for continued peace in Moldova.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Post-Election Update from Moldova

Dear friends:

Here are updates from our ministry partners in Moldova. Please continue to pray for Moldova.

From Olga Ieseanu:

The situation in Moldova hasn’t stabilized yet, on the contrary there are many antidemocratic actions organized by the communist leading party. Please continue to pray for Moldova today. We'll send updates from here as we can. Thank you for your prayers!


Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Election Aftermath - Please Pray for Moldova.

Our friend, Valeriu Ghiletchi, has asked for continued prayer. Please see his note below.
While there are protests in the streets, the citizens of Moldova not participating in these protests are safe, as are the children we serve there and our in country staff. We hope the conflict will be resolved soon and will keep you posted on our blog as things develop.

Dear friends,

Street protests erupted today (4/7) in Chsinau, the capital city of Moldova. The demonstrations are a result of the huge disappointment that many people felt after the announcement of the final election results. The President and Parliament buildings have been vandalized. At this moment the Parliament building is on fire. Police withdrew from these buildings. Political leaders of the opposition met with the powers that be, but so far the conflict has not been resolved.

I addressed the protesters a public message in which I invited them to pray, have peace and faith in Christ. Our churches are engaged in prayer today. Toma Magda, the European Baptist Federation President, who is in Moldova these days, and myself urge you to pray for peace. Pray also for me, so I can play a peace making role and be a witness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in these crucial days for our nation.

Valeriu Ghiletchi

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Update on the situation in Moldova


Here is an email we received this afternoon from Valeriu, the Bishop of Moldova and Parliamentarian-elect. See our sidebar for up to date information on the situation there. We encourage you to join with Sweet Sleep as we diligently pray for Valeriu and Moldova.

Dear friends,

Street protests erupted today in Chsinau, the capital city of Moldova. The demonstrations are a result of the huge disappointment that many people felt after the announcement of the final election results. The President and Parliament buildings have been vandalized. At this moment the Parliament building is under fire. The situation is out of control. Police withdrew from these buildings. Political leaders of the opposition met with the power, but so far the conflict has not been resolved.

I addressed the protesters a public message in which I invited them to pray, have peace and faith in Christ. Our churches are engaged in prayer today. Toma Magda, the European Baptist Federation President, who is in Moldova these days, and myself urge you to pray for peace and stopping of violence. Pray also for me, so I can play a peace making role and be a witness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in these crucial days for our nation.

Valeriu Ghiletchi

Monday, April 06, 2009

Moldovan Election Update from Valeriu Ghiletchi


Below is an e-mail from our friend Valeriu Ghiletchi - the current bishop of the Baptist Union in Moldova. He ran for Parilament and did win a seat. Please see his not below about the elections. Thank you for your support of Sweet Sleep and for your prayers for Moldova.

Sweet Sleep

Dear friends,

Thank you very much for your prayers. I would like to tell you that, according to the results of the 98% of the votes, I have got a seat in the Parliament. This is the good news. The bad news is that the Communist Party have got 61 seats out of 101 seats, which is the absolute majority. The party I ran with have got 14 seats. Three democratic parties that have made in have got only 40 seats. The situation is tense. The democratic parties have accused the Communist Party for having unfair elections. There might be street protests.

Let us thank God for this victory, and please, pray for this tense situation and for me, so the Lord may use me according to His will.

Valeriu Ghiletchi