Nov 17, 2012

Shaklee vitamins: Some of the best vitamins in the world!

The Shaklee corporation has been making natural vitamins for over 55 years and they are some of the best. Backed by years and years of research, even the FDA consults Shaklee for advice regarding the approval of vitamins for consumer use. You can only purchase Shaklee vitamins and nutritional supplements from a certified Shaklee distributor. Be sure to shop around and get one that is reliable and offers the best prices. Vander Hoven Associates in NJ has very fast service and will give you the best prices.

With the onslaught of obesity and one out of every three Americans heading for diabetes in the next 30 years, take care of your health! Health is better than wealth and yes, money can buy you some extra time, but it can't necessarily make you feel better. Only taking care of your body over a life time will result in quality living during your sunset years.

So supplement your diet with Shaklee vitamins and get started today towards good health! Contact your local certified Shaklee distributor.

Sep 27, 2012

Good health: If you have it, you have everything.

In the country of Morocco, there is a saying "If you have your health, you have everything."  There is definitely some truth in that. Would you rather be rich and sick or poor and healthy? You might be saying to yourself that if you were rich, you could go to doctors and get healthy. But can you really? Can you buy good health? Sure, you can buy medicine, and buy treatment for ailments. And money can probably extend your life, but what will the quality of that life look like? Is living a few extra years with failing health better than living a shorter life but living a more healthy and active life? 

Ah, that decision is up to each individual person. What people put into their mouths to consume as food is their choice. Rich people have access to the fanciest foods. Poor people have access to the basics like beans and bread. There are consequences to what we eat. As they say, you are what we eat. By the year 2030, 50% of all Americans will be obese! The richest nation on earth will be the fattest and unhealthiest peoples on the planet! And Europe won't be far behind. Health care costs will sky rocket. The people of the nation will cry out for government to take care of their health care needs. They won't want to pay for the consequences of years of poor diet. They won't want to deny themselves the oral orgasms that they are addicted to. They can't stop the sugar rush. They have lost all self control. They don't care - until they get sick. 

Paying for quality health care is expensive. Americans won't want to pay for it out of their own pocket. They will demand that the government give them a health bail out. But it will be too late. Years of abuse of the physical body has long-term consequences. Young people need to think about this today. New healthy eating habits must begin now and they need to begin at home with the parents. The best way for parents to teach their kids how to eat right is to set the example themselves. 

Ultimately the inability to curb one's appetite is a spiritual problem. It is the dependency upon food rather than God, to make them happy or give them comfort. What do you think? Please give your opinion.

Jan 14, 2012

The Coming Islamic Revolution. Is the World Ready?

We witnessed the Arab Spring in 2011. Dictators from Tunisia, Egypt and Libya were overthrown. The people in those lands rejoiced and reveled in their new found freedoms. But what did they get in exchange? Many are wondering. Getting rid of a dictator can often usher in another dictator, or even worse. Having a country run by the military with corrupt officials throughout doesn't help build a nation. And how do you build a new government? How long does it take? And how restless will the people get waiting?

In 2011, over 130 Tunisians set themselves on fire out of sheer desperation. One was an unemployed father of three. What causes people to take such desperate measures? Are they looking to be heroes? Life has not improved for the poor in North Africa and the Middle East. As a matter of fact, for many it has become worse. Unemployment is still extremely high and rising. Hopelessness is spreading. Desperation is beginning to set it. The people were patient for a long time under their dictators. Now how much longer do they have to wait? It is hard to know how they feel until we put ourselves in their shoes.

A Tunisian man sets himself alight. Why?

When was the last time you spent any significant amount of time in a poor village where it seems like nothing is happening. The atmosphere is depressing. There's no work. One has way too much idle time. Watching TV becomes totally unfulfilling. You watch the grass grow for entertainment if you can find any grass. You are looking for a way out. You seek to escape to Europe, but the doors are all closed. What other choices do you have?

Have you heard of the Islamic Party? They have the answers for the masses. They will create equality and stamp out corruption. They will implement Islamic law and everything will become new again and right. Right? Maybe. But as a young, unemployed individual, isn't some kind of change better than no change? So why not give the Islamic Party a chance. After all, it can't get any worse, can it? Or can it. The Islamic Party will ban all music, videos and TV from the west and the east, eliminate interest in banking, and subject women to few rights including the right to work. More jobs you say, for the men, right? Sure, if they'll do them. Menial work is not a whole lot of fun. And two people earning income for the family is better than one. But if my economic situation gets better, then it's worth the sacrifice. Time will tell. History gives some insight into whether or not it will work. Good luck to the Muslim peoples. You are going to need it.

If hope is not achieved through your revolutions, look no further. There is hope. It's available here.

Aug 2, 2011

Reasons Why You Shouldn't Trust Facebook.

It's one of the most powerful communications tool on the planet. Over 600 million people in over 200 countries subscribe to facebook. Millions log on daily to share their lives, their personal information, their likes and dislikes, and their photos. They have identified their friends, where they shop, books they like to read, as well as a myriad of other details. THIS is what makes facebook worth over 10 billion dollars. It's not the program itself, it's all the data that is stored on over 600 million people. It is a marketer's dream to have access to all that data. That is why it is worth billions.

Most facebook users assume that when they want, they can delete or inactivate their account and all that information that they shared for many years will go away. Wrong. It is stored on computer servers for ever, or at least until the earth disolves. And there are a lot of people who would love to get their hands on all that information. And someday, someone who has malicious intent, may get their hands on information of over 1 billion people. It might even be 2 billion by then or more. Imagine the power behind being able to also communicate with so many people using one medium? Barak Obama used it well during his presidential campaign and it changed the world ever since. We saw the Arab spring in 2011 result in the overthrow of governments using powerful social media tools like facebook.

Are you prepared to have your information potentially used by someone or an organization that could use it against you? They would have plenty of data to find you guilty of say, your religious beliefs, or your political slant. And users thought those "conversations" were limited to their select group of friends. Little did they know that facebook stores every piece of data that they enter into the site and store it for "future use" or "sale".  And facebook will eventually be sold. It may be purchased by a wealthy Russian oligarchy or a Saudi sheik or even...dare say...the antichrist! Can you imagine? Talk about malicious intent! Don't think it can't happen. People are generally evil by nature and if there is money to be made and greed and power overtakes an individual, they are able to go to incredible lengths to accomplish their purposes. Just look at Adolf Hitler as an example and his Nazi empire. He would have loved to have social media tools like facebook to "take over the world". There are still many people and even religions out there that would like to achieve world domination and most believe in achieving it using any method possible. 

So the next time you log in to facebook, consider the long-term consequences. Sure there is short-term opportunity, but when the tables turn, you may wish you had never heard of facebook. Remember how they have changed their privacy settings and policy somewhat secretly? Let the user beware!!

What do you think? Is fasebook safe to use? Should it be trusted? If so, who are you trusting? Ask yourself this question each time you log onto facebook, "Is facebook 'safebook'"? Don't trust facebook. And certainly don't trust their privacy policy which can change like the direction of the wind.

Jul 29, 2011

Libya: The Unspoken Cry for Help and Hope.

As the war rages on in Libya, and most of the world forgets that it is even happening, the Libyan people continue to suffer. Children, mothers, grandparents - entire families - are having to live through incredibly difficult times. They are trying to live "normal" lives, provide food for their families, go to school and work but alas, a civil war has disrupted their lives. Unfortunately, this is the nature of civil war. More than cities and towns get destroyed, also people's lives. Distrust runs rampant, rumors flood the streets, despair and hopelessness sets in, and the cry of the people go unheard. What can be done for the people of Libya? From where can a savior come?

The scenario that is playing out in Libya could happen in any country of the world and in fact has happened many times in history. It will also happen again maybe even in the United States, Europe, China, or any other country. Discontent leads to internal strife. Internal strife leads to public discord. And as we saw in Egypt, the power of the web and social media can get the revolutionary ball rolling quite quickly. Emotion kicks in. People searching for hope get caught up in the euphoria. A revolution begins to take place. And then it happens! Everyone is elated. There's dancing in the streets. People shed tears of joy. The celebrations last for three days. And then reality begins to set it. The big question everyone asks is, "Now what?"  What happens next? Who is going to rule the country? What about security? Who is going to pay the civil servants who help to make our country stable? Who is in charge of the treasury? How are we going to restore the economy? Who is going to give me a job? Oh no, it's not better, it's actually worse! Yes, we might be a bit more free, but hey, this isn't what we dreamed it would be like. Help!

And then there is very little help. A country that has just implemented a revolution must now find their way alone. Confused and disillusioned, the people begin to try and make some sense of what just happened and they try to envision the future. Fear begins to set in again. Wait, didn't we just have a revolution that got rid of our fears of the brutal government that has been ruling us for so many years? Why has the fear returned? And it is actually worse because there is too much uncertainty!  Our imaginations are running wild. Again distrust and anxiety fill our lives. Life is worse than before! What have we done? Can we go back? Do we want to go back? Wasn't it better before we had the revolution? We at least had stability and security. Now the future is so uncertain we can hardly sleep at night. What should we do now? What can we do? Who is running the country? Who will help us figure this out?

You are alone. A feeling like you have never had before. The revolution is over. Life isn't better for the moment. Maybe it will get better. There's no guarantee. Next time maybe we should think twice before we have a revolution.

Jun 17, 2011

10 Tips for Effective Blog Writing.

So you want to write and post content to a blog. Great! Get started now. Don't wait! There are two types of blogs:  personal and thematic. If you want an on-line diary, then it’s personal. Otherwise go with thematic and present yourself as an expert in your field providing relevant content that will draw in readers.

  1. Write original content!!!
  2. 200-400 words in length
  3. Have several outbound links from within the content to quality web sites. (3-5)
  4. Carefully selected wording for the headline. (Top ten tips for…, How to Stop Sex Trafficking, The Best Way to ______, What to do about ______,  Marketing to the Next Generation Guidelines, Trends in Youth Travel, What You Need to Know to ________,etc.
  5. Use Google Adwords to find out which words to use in your headline. Use words that have heavy search volume and preferably low competition.
  6. Use your headline somewhere in your article
  7. Select relating key words that relates to your article that have high search volume and incorporate those words into the content of the article.
  8. Use the key words in your tags
  9. Try to include at least 1 image. When uploading an image to your blog post, use key words in the file name of the image that you have saved on your computer.  Ex. You want to upload a photo, give the file name:  Silk Road Map, or Nepal trekking,
  10. Create wise article directories/categories. Preferably 10-20.  Be sure they are general like:
Sex Trafficking
Social Justice
Youth Ministry

·    Make sure your blog is visible/searchable to the public.
·    Have strategic outbound links in the side bar of the blog. Each time you write, a new page will contain those links, helping those to whom you link rise in search engines.
·    Be sure your readers can share your blog posts easily using facebook and other social media tools
·    Have a sign up box so your readers can receive notification of your article each time you post.
·    Have others link to your blog.

Doing these simple steps will go a long way to making your articles more search engine friendly, help them to rank higher, and ultimately have more traffic and readers.The above 10 tips for effective blog writing will help you with Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Google has 68% of the web blog traffic and they control the complex algorythms that decide who is #1 on page 1. You want to be on the top.Writing an effective blog that links to other web sites and blogs can also give them a boost in rankings as well.

For more helpful tips and information, go to the excellent site:

Jun 15, 2011

Our Social Injustice: Human Sex Trafficking and How to Stop It.

Human sex trafficking has hit an all time high and is growing even as you read this article. Young children and young adults are being coerced or tricked at this very moment into selling their souls. Some do it knowingly, others do it as a result of deception. In every nation, this activity is occurring. Like prostitution and farming, it has been around for a long time. It has become too easy for society to turn it's back on this huge social atrocity until it hits home. Simply travel to any major city at night and many of the children you see on the streets are victims of human sex traffickers. These sex traffickers are good at what they do. They know their trade, and they know their commodity. 

With recent media attention, the ability of more people to travel, increased information on the web, and overall general public awareness, the problem of sex trafficking has come into the spotlight. People want to take action. Many are concerned and angry, but they don't know what to do about it. 

Most children and young adults who are sold into sex trafficking never intended to sell their bodies. Most often they were looking for hope - a way out of a bad economic situation. Someone came along and convinced them that life is better on the other side. Often the carrot that is dangled before them is the dream of working and earning money in Europe or North America. Some victims actually make it, but they are sold as sex slaves. Many never make it and are sold as sex slaves far away from home and no where near their intended destination. Dreams are shattered. Bodies are battered. Lives are smattered. Never to be the same again emotionally, physically, spiritually or mentally, victims of sex trafficking are mounting by the hour. Government corruption, ignorance, apathy and the lack of resources all contribute towards this international problem. Like cocaine and other drugs, there is demand for the "product" and therein lies the problem. 

Men, being the main customer, seek out sex for pleasure, escape, reward, dominance and thrill. They are trying to fill emptiness in their lives with activities that can only satisfy temporarily. How long does sex last? Just a few minutes. And then the cycle begins all over again. Often drugs are also involved because the sex doesn't satisfy. Why? Because it's not kosher or halal sex. It is stolen sex. And stolen sex isn't sweet. It turns sour afterwards with feelings of guilt and shame. And that's a lousy way to live. 

So will demand be curtailed? Probably not anytime soon unless there is an amazing awakening on the part of the main purchasers of sex. That awakening can happen. Find out more at this site which will give the solution in many different languages.  Inspired Sex Relief.

May 4, 2011

Opening the Doors of Education in Bangladesh

Education is key for the next generation.
The hand weaving machines machines have fallen silent in countries such as Bangladesh. Fierce price competition from China has hit these traditional income-generating sources hard. There are drastic losses in sales which means that some of the weavers have been made redundant, even on the meager wages they receive. The sound of hand powered looms has nearly fallen silent now as Chinese industrial production threatens all of Bangladesh’s cotton weaving industry. Even the mechanized high powered looms do not have the same confident cacophony of sound.

In former days, loom workers used hands and feet simultaneously, working long hours to meet impossible deadlines. Nowadays, unemployment is rising, and the need for work at any cost forces weavers to continue working longer hours under very cramped conditions, rejoining threads that snap and fray without warning. When there is work, weavers sit for hours working, weaving, watching the rise of the shuttle, supervising the weaving of many goods in the making –including clothing that is sold in the markets of Europe.

Nearby, the river is quite low because of recent drought conditions. The villagers fetch water, wash in it, then dry out the hanks of brightly colored threads that had been dyed. Balancing on the edges of the paddy fields, past groves of trees where bananas and nuts would yield their fruit later in the year, goats nibble at the weeds between the wheat, as small children walk around with babies on their hips.

The nearby small village school is a new purpose-built construction, comprising of six concrete poles, wrapped in corrugated iron on two sides and on top. Across the entrance stretches a red ribbon, awaiting the grand opening. There is the Bangladeshi flag waiting to be raised.  The teacher was dressed in a glorious bright red sari, and welcomed guests with flowers and garlands.

The school was opened with the cutting of the ribbon. The flag was raised and the school officially held classes. Inside, were predominantly girls who had never received any schooling because they had not been considered suitable educational material. Each child had its own woven bag where they kept their books – whether at school or at home – their homes have no such suitable storage for such treasures.

The children sit inside on the floor on a tarpaulin, with their bags in front of them, all ready for the day. The children worked their way through the alphabet and counted for the first time! They drew numbers on their slates, which they pulled out of their bags. The teacher drew the letters on the board, and the children came up to draw their first one. Many of the villagers peered in to watch this exciting new event.

These children in this remote Bengali village now have the opportunity to begin a life of learning. The door has begun to open for them that would under no other circumstances be accessible. The school aims to help children catch up on their education in order to be able to enter into the normal school program within three years period.

Mar 8, 2011

Tips on How to Recruit, Motivate and Empower Gen Y.

In the previous article, we covered the concepts of how to lead Gen Y. Now we will cover how to equip them so they can accomplish tasks.

7 Tips on How to help Gen Y accomplish tasks.

1.    Earn your right to speak by listening.
2.    Recognize and encourage their desire to be a part of something bigger than a menial task.
3.    Speak with understanding and empathy.
4.    Show that you care.
5.    Build bridges of relationship that will eventually allow you to proclaim truth.
6.    Tell them true life stories.
7.    Break down huge tasks into smaller portions.

Top 5 ways to motivate and equip Gen Y.

1.    Give them real world experience.
2.    Allow them to participate.
3.    Images are their language, not words.
4.    Allow technology to be a big part of their world but don’t let it dominate.
5.    Provide an environment where they can be creative.

How to recruit Gen Y to your cause.

1.    Listen to them and affirm their dreams.
2.    Challenge them with short-term commitments.
3.    Offer realistic steps to their over optimistic goals.
4.    Connect your strategic goals with theirs.
5.    Encourage them to simplify and focus their life.
6.    Ask for their opinions on improving your mission.
7.    Pursue them and communicate their value.

For Millennials or Gen Y, their life paradigm is “Life is a buffet of choices.” Their primary attitude towards authority is “chose me”.  However, Gen Y have huge potential. For you, the challenge is to mentor the next generation. Teach them about life by connecting with them through real life experiences.

Mar 7, 2011

Tips on How to Lead the Gen Y Generation.

In the previous article we covered the characteristics of the Gen Y generation and how to market products and services to them. Below, you will find ways to lead Gen Y and the characteristics you as a leader will need.

8 Tips on How to Lead the Gen Y Generation.

1.    Create incentives for them.
2.    Micro-manage only at first.
3.    Let them share ideas.
4.    Launch a mutual mentor initiative.
5.    Communicate the importance of their tasks.
6.    Tell them the truth.
7.    Manage by objective.
8.    Mentor more than manage.
Top 5 Characteristics You Need to Lead the Gen Y Generation.

1.    Openness, transparency and contact
2.    Make it fun and playful
3.    Make it  fast and change often
4.    Balance and flexibility
5.    Be in a place where they can grow and learn continually.

In life, one needs to manage expectations. Life is hard. You can’t just push a button and everything will work out. You can’t push a button and always have instant results. Train Gen Y through real life experiences. Help Gen Y plan their careers.

The next article covers tips on how to help the Gen Y generation accomplish tasks.

Mar 4, 2011

Tips for Marketing to Gen Y or Millennials.

The Y Generation may seem allusive in your attempts to reach them with your product or service. The Y Generation or also known as Gen Y or the Millennials, were born between 1984 and 2002. They like choices and to be able to customize their decisions. They don’t want someone else to make the choices for them.  Pro-democracy movements around the world are now being driving by Gen Y who are using technology very effectively. As we think about marketing to this generation, they have been conditioned to options which they can customize for themselves. They also want to follow a leader, but that leader needs to be credible and worthy of their following (and they might do it primarily using technology). This generation is looking for role models because the lack credible figures of authority. Here are the most recent generations and their populations numbers:

Seniors:   1900-1928   56 million
Builders:  1929-1945   59 million
Boomers:  1946-1964   76 million
Busters or Gen X:  1965-1983   44 million
Millennials or Gen Y:  1984-2002   78 million

courtesy of Crown Financial Ministries

Millennials or GenY are over-exposed to information but lacking in real world experience. A real world experience allows a person to accept responsibility, grow and mature. Gen Y’s like to live in their comfortable “home bubble”. This can cause societal stresses. Just ask the people of Italy. For years they have been dealing with a generation that doesn’t want to leave home, primarily men.

Even within the Y Generation, there are shifts or changes, but technology is making those shifts occur more frequently. They have access to a lot of information through which they view their world. They can be self-centered people. After all, they are encouraged to market themselves on the web.  Their focus becomes their web identity. New technology shapes the world of Gen Y. The developing nations that have access to technology are also composed of a large Gen Y population with similar characteristics. Within the Gen Y group, there is a shift from those born in the early years to those in the latter.  The shift within the Gen Y is as follows: 

From high compassion to low empathy.
From activists to “slackivists”.
Technology is an appendage, not a tool.
From civic-minded to self-absorbed.
Ambitious about the future turned to ambiguity.
From accelerated growth to postponed maturation.

The Gen Y generation has a very short attention span and find it just as difficult to make a commitment as the Gen Xers.  Gen Y’s take more time to get ready in the morning than any previous generation. They communicate and live in their little bubbles. Gen Y’s have multiple visions and lack a clear calling in their lives. They are staying in adolescence longer. It is comfortable, easy, few responsibilities, plenty of money, and life is fun and that’s the meaning of life. If it’s not fun, it’s not worth pursuing. The new 18 is now 26.  Adolescence for Gen Y now doesn’t end until they reach 30 years.  Over the next two decades, millions of baby boomers and Gen X will be retiring and the Gen Y is not ready to step into leadership positions.

Listed are 5 characteristics of Gen Y.

1.    Mischievous.
2.    Want their mother near-by.
3.    Don’t want to grow up.
4.    Frugal and afraid of debt.
5.    Can’t function without being connected to technology.

7 Reasons why Gen Y’s don’t mature quickly.

1.    School culture – relating to too many peers. Social silos.
2.    Niche marketing – keep them young and consuming.
3.    Prescription drugs – we are medicating our children resulting in personality alteration.
4.    Parenting styles – hovering tactics. Protecting vs. training.
5.    Endocrine disruptors – chemicals in our environment and food that alters physical bodies.
6.    Video games – disables Millennials from engaging with humans.
7.    Media and technology – makes people lazy and self centered. It’s all about “me”.

Generation Y wants to tell their story. The more of the following elements you implement, the more success you will have in connecting with Gen Y.

Top 5 Challenges facing Gen Y.

1.    They have to live in a world that the older generation created.
2.    Too much dependency upon technology.
3.    Information over-load leading to decision making paralysis.
4.    Insecurity and low self-esteem.
5.    Peer influences steer their decision making.

Top 10 Tips for Marketing to the Gen Y Generation.

1.    Offer them a variety of products or services.   
2.    Engage them with images.
3.    Allow them to tailor their desires.
4.    Appeal to their need for recognition.
5.    Provide immediate information and feedback.
6.    Help them to simplify their lives .
7.    Ask them for their opinions on how to improve something.
8.    Pursue them and speak their language.
9.    Reach them through entertaining media.
10.  Appeal to their insecurities.

The next article will cover tips on how to lead the Gen Y.

Mar 1, 2011

Christian Faith Grows Along the Silk Road

The countries of the Silk Road are made up predominantly of Muslims. However, Christianity continues to make inroads and below is a photo of Christian worship dancers in Kazakhstan.

Feb 28, 2011

South East Asian Countries Facing Huge Challenges Amid Centuries Old Traditions.

I stopped to gaze at the old woman shuffling ahead of me on slippered feet. A flurry of colour enveloped her. She wore a traditional striped apron, an orange flowered waistband, and an incongruent silken blouse. The fingers of her left hand clasped a string of worn prayer beads and her right hand stroked the letters inscribed on the crimson and gold prayer wheels around the Stupa temple. Each wheel rumbled and moaned as she passed her hand across it and her mouth muttered rhythmic prayers. Like her, I had come to pray, but without the beads or the wheels. I was prayer walking, using the sights and sounds and smells around me as inspiration. I hadn’t wanted only to pray; I wanted to touch someone’s life, offering hope, or just lend a helping hand. My prayers seemed less real than hers. She could touch and count the words she offered through the spinning wheels. I had only my thoughts. I couldn’t help wondering as I watched the old woman: how long had she been coming here to spin the prayers of the ancient wheels? As I passed by her, she glanced up at me. I offered her a shy “tashi dalek” – “hello”. A smile lightened her worn face and I saw that her eyes were a liquid blue. Then she lowered her head and continued her ritual walk.

Spinning Buddhist prayer wheels in South East Asia.
Such are some the ancient traditions of the countries of South East Asia. Some of these traditions clash with the modern age that has quickly swept across the Asian region. The older generation clings to their traditions while the younger generation, much larger and wealthier, seek to progress into the future on the wave of technology. As Asia continues to boom economically, it will continue to face huge challenges. With a mix of religions such as Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, Animism, Confucianism, and other belief systems, there is certainty that there will be a clash. Not necessarily between the religious faiths, although that is not out of the question, but between the past and modernity. How will the countries of South East Asia adjust to the modern age while still maintaining their traditions? Which religious groups will be able to make this transition easier than others? It will be interesting to watch in the years ahead to see if certain faiths are able to adapt to the new age or not.

Feb 23, 2011

Islam in Central Asia Torn Between the Past and the Future.

Gullia is Muslim and proud of it. Her people in Uzbekistan are all Muslim and it is unthinkable that she could be anything else. She is a pretty 19-year-old student who is into the latest fashions and music just like students all over the world. Gullia has an important exam next week so today she went to a shrine outside the city. She visited the grave of a holy man who is said to have performed many miracles. Gullia tied a small piece of cloth to the iron grill surrounding the shrine before stretching out her palms and praying for the saint to help her. She ran her hands down her face to transfer the blessing and murmured a quick “If God wills.” Orthodox Muslims would condemn this kind of superstition which dates back to the animistic beliefs of pre-Islamic Central Asia. These practices continue today with the frequent use of amulets, charms, curses and fortune telling. Gullia has never read the Qur’an and the only thing she knows about Islam is what her mother has passed on to her. Still, Gullia is proud of her glorious Islamic heritage.

Once she went on a school trip to Samarkand and was amazed by the dazzling tile work of the awe inspiring mosques built by Timurlane. Arab armies brought Islam to Central Asia in the 7th century. By the 14th century Samarkand and the region beyond the Oxus river was an intellectual center of the whole Muslim world. It boasted the most advanced astronomical observatory in the world at that time, while its poets and calligraphers were emulated all over the Middle East. Gullia didn’t hear much about Islam as she grew up since the 70 years of Russian communist rule repressed religious knowledge and belief. Muslim teachers were exiled to Siberia and it seemed that only elderly villagers continued to believe. Since the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991 more and more Central Asians have become interested in Islam as they seek to recover their historical identity. Gullia’s brother is fed up with the poverty and corruption he sees around him. He has read some Islamic books smuggled in from Afghanistan - but in secret for fear of being arrested and tortured by the police. Gullia herself shudders at the thought of being made to cover up like women in fundamentalist Iran. Some days Gullia wonders if there is another way to get closer to the God who seems so far away….

Feb 18, 2011

Drug and Alcohol Centers Offer Hope Along the Silk Road.

Lives ruined by alcohol and drugs are being transformed in a rehabilitation centre in a Central Asian country. The man behind it all is Rafael, who learned about the dangers of addiction the hard way. Once a prosperous family man, he lost everything as a result of alcoholism. In desperation while on a trip, Rafael cried out to God to restore his life. A short time later he converted to the Christian faith. Rafael began to reach out to those in prison. He made friends with a prisoner called Folka who also became a follower of Jesus Christ. Folka was dying from tuberculosis so the prison authorities released him to the care of Rafael, who promised to look after him for his last few days on earth. However, Folka didn’t die! God completely healed him from TB as well as from alcohol and drug abuse!

About the same time, Ina came to Rafael asking for help. Her life was a mess – she was a drug addict as were her two teenage children. Her husband was in jail. Rafael arranged for her and her sons to go through a rehabilitation program. Meanwhile, her husband Alex came out of prison and became a Christian. Rafael started to take other addicts into his home but soon became concerned at how many started drinking alcohol after they left. One night he had a dream in which he saw a vine. The branches were taken off the vine and then put back on. Rafael realized that the addicts needed a place where they could receive long term support. He and his wife put their home up for sale to purchase the grounds of a disused church where they set up ‘The Secret Place’ rehabilitation center. Pavel and his wife even sold their wedding rings to buy food for the addicts who came to stay. Now three years and incredible answers to prayer later, ‘The Secret Place’ offers men and women the opportunity to deal with their addictions and hear more about the Christian faith. Ira and Alec, along with Pavel and Wofka, run training programs every morning and oversee practical activities in the afternoons. Their vision is to see residents transformed by Jesus and go on to reach out to the surrounding communities. One of the residents is a young woman called Elsa. She grew up in a government orphanage but had to leave when she turned 18 years old. She was kidnapped and became someone’s slave. Elsa became pregnant and was sent to the hospital to get an abortion. The doctor took pity on her and arranged for her to be sent to the center. Now Elsa is literally hiding in the Secret Place with her daughter. 

Pavel had always felt inferior to Russians and tried desperately to match their heavy drinking habits. Eventually he lost his job as a gynecologist. His wife became a believer in Jesus and tried to persuade him to go to the centre but he refused. Later on Pavel became a beliver himself but was only able to stop drinking for several weeks. His church sent him to the Secret Place where he says he’s now living a new life! 

Rafael and his team have plans to build a second accommodation block for women. The main obstacle is finance and often Rafael is wondering where the next meal will come from. Please pray that God would be faithful to fulfilling the dream he gave Rafael so that many more broken lives can be made whole.

Feb 16, 2011

Communities on the Silk Road from Turkey to China.

The Silk Road is the name given to the ancient trade route between China and Europe which crossed the length of Central Asia. It was the Romans who first appreciated the texture of the fine silk that had made its way from the Far East, often accompanied by exotic spices. In exchange precious stones and metals went the other way. The main route started at the old imperial capital of China, now Xi’an, and skirted the deadly sands of the Taklimakan desert, climbed over the snowbound passes of the Pamir Mountains, dropped down to the greenery of the Fergana valley, passed through Samarkand and Bukhara, rounded the south of the Caspian Sea and finally ended at the Mediterranean in Turkey.

Along with commodities there was also an exchange of technologies and ideas. Paper and gunpowder first made their way west down the Silk Road. Different races rubbed shoulders as westerners met Turks, Iranians, Mongols and Chinese for the first time.

Travelers also shared their religious viewpoints, like the monks who climbed over the Karakorum pass to bring Buddhism from India to China.

Nestorian Christians, ostracised as heretics by the western church, set out from their base in Iran and took the
message of Jesus Christ all the way to China by 638AD. Soon bishops were being appointed for Christian communities all over modern-day Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and China. Whole Turkic tribes were baptised and had an influence on the Mongol hordes. This remarkable flowering was destroyed by the massacres of Genghis Khan and Timurlane. Later Islam came down the same road, brought by Arab armies and zealous traders, establishing itself as the dominant faith.

One of the most remarkable travelers down the Silk Road was Marco Polo. His uncle Matteo had been all the way to Khanbalik (Beijing) and met with Kublai Khan. The Khan requested him to go back and ask the Pope to send one hundred missionaries to teach the Mongols about Christianity. Matteo presented this request in Rome but when he set out on his second journey he was accompanied by only two monks as well as his nephew. Marco later recorded how the monks turned back after a few months when they heard of a hostile army ahead. He and his uncle pressed on for four years until they arrived at Kublai’s court in 1275. They became trusted courtiers of the Khan and returned to Europe wealthy men. The Mongols, however, later became Buddhists or Muslims.

Feb 15, 2011

Coca Cola Company Not Pleased With Revealed Recipe for Coke.

For years, there has been speculation as to the secret recipe of Coke, the famous drink produced by the Atlanta based company Coca Cola. With the recent revelation of the supposed ingredients could hurt the company's sales and bottom line. However, the many years and millions of dollars that have been pumped into the Coke brand, will continue to make it the leading soft drink world wide. There's something prestigious about holding a Coke in your hand. It says, "I'm cool." "I'm modern." "I drink Coke."  So what is the secret recipe for Coke? It is thought to be:

Fluid extract of Coca: 3 drams USP

Lime juice: 2 pints, 1 quart
Vanilla: 1 oz
Caramel: 1.5 oz or more for color
Citric acid: 3 oz
Caffeine: 1 oz
Sugar: 30 (unclear quantity)
Water: 2.5 gal

The secret 7X flavor (use 2 oz of flavor to 5 gals syrup):
Alcohol: 8 oz
Nutmeg oil: 10 drops
Coriander: 5 drops
Neroli: 10 drops
Cinnamon: 10 drops
Orange oil: 20 drops
Lemon oil: 30 drops

Coca-Cola is the maker of Diet Coke and other soft drinks.

Feb 14, 2011

Muslim Countries of the Middle East Thrust onto the World Stage with Uprisings, Revolutions and Wars.

Countries that surround the Mediterranean Sea.

The countries along the Mediterranean Sea now find themselves at the center of history. Recent developments in Tunisia, Egypt, Algeria, Israel, Syria and Jordan have put this region once again in the world spot light. Europe, and their economic and social ills have made the entire region an area of nervous peoples. What is going to happen politically, socially, and economically?  This is a major question in the minds of many. Discontent runs rampant and this fuels the desire for change in the region. Islamic fundamentalism and other religious extremism adds to the mix of anxiety. Fear of loosing control to the unknown has led to an increase in worry and depression amongst the people of this region. With Turkey to the northeast, and Morocco to the southwest and France to the northwest and Egypt to the southeast, the area around the Mediterranean Sea is amazingly diverse. Can they live together in unity as neighbors in a world where community is beginning to stretch across political boundaries? Only time will tell.

Egypt, the Nile River and the Middle East from space.

Egypt and the Nile River at night.

North Africa and the Middle East needs transformation.

Feb 12, 2011

How Hindu and Muslim Fundamentalists Will Change India, China and the World.

The sheer size of the populations of India and China means that they will shape the future of the world. Both countries are in the midst of explosive growth, with India leading the way because they don't have child birth restrictions like China has. Seventy five percent of India's population is under the age of 35. China has interfered in it's birth rates out of fear of unrest. But that will come back to haunt them in the future as their population ages and there's no one to replace them.

India, with it's majority Hindu population and minority Muslim and Christian populations is a powder keg waiting to ignite. There are over 300 million Muslims in India and Christianity is growing rapidly through conversions. More people have converted to Christianity in India during the past decade than ever before. The justice movement for the suppressed Dalit caste has helped Christianity to grow. Millions of people, predominantly women, are looking for a way out of their oppression and they are finding it in the Christian faith. The Christian faith gives them the hope that they need to survive. Even though they remain in poverty, there are many organizations that are working to help educate the Dalits and other low caste groups. Many of the women in the lower castes are victims of sex trafficking and have been turned into sex slaves. Over 250,000 young girls are currently trapped in Hindu temples and forced to serve as sex slaves for Hindu priests. Temple prostitution continues to be a major problem in India. There are over 250 million Dalits and the number of them who have turned to the Christian faith is impossible to count. India is in the early stages of an explosive growth in Christianity. Currently there are over 3,000 Good Shepherd Community churches alone in India. There is a church "born" every day in India. In the next ten years, there will be more than 50,000 new church plants in the country. In each of the next 3 years, different Christian organizations run by nationals, will attempt to train new men and women to lead church congregations.

The growth of Christianity in India will permeate the entire country. In Europe, for example, Christianity will continue to decline while Islam will continue to grow. The rise of Islamic populations in Europe will change the culture and politics of Europe. Communities and families create culture. 60% of the households in the U.K. will be run by single parents by 2030.  India has had one culture for 2,500 years and the people want to change their culture but they still want community. Will they be able to do it? Gandi, Jesus and Mohamed all wanted their followers to exist in community. Which ones will actually be able to demonstrate that their specific communities work in harmony and unity with each other?

The Hindu community in India no doubt feels threatened by the rise of Christian and Islamic communities. Recently, 3 million Hindu fanatics gathered with the aim to reconvert Indian Christians back to Hinduism. It's spiritual warfare! A clash between religious groups is currently the biggest challenge in India today. It's also a huge challenge for China. However, many see Islam as the biggest threat to India today. The Muslim population in India is also growing, mainly through high birth rates. The struggle of 1.1 billion people in India will impact the world. The unfolding drama in India today is startling.  For India and China, the future of the world lies in their hands, but fortunately the entire universe is in the hands of God.

Here is information on how to find Peace with God.

Feb 11, 2011

The Culture Shaping Power of Stories in the Koran, Torah, and the Bible.

Well told or written stories have the power to change people, communities, nations and the world. Stories have the power to bless or curse. There are stories that give an understanding of reality, and those that don't. Throughout history, we see that story telling has influenced cultures like the internet is doing today. The Greeks, Persians, Turks, Arabs, Egyptians, Chinese, Indians, Jews, and many other large people groups have all evolved into what they are today partly due to the stories that were handed down from generation to generation. The ancient countries of the Middle East, North Africa and along the Silk Road have been heavily influenced by stories that are thousands of years old. The Koran (Qur'an), Torah, and Bible have some of the oldest stories that include Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael and the tribes that followed.

The one who can tell the best story in the best way can often have the biggest influence. Not only the story itself, but how it is told and how others hear it. When the printing press came into being, millions more people were impacted through this mass media. Today it's the internet which we see can tell the stories of live revolutions such as those which occurred in Tunisia and Egypt in 2011.

In the beginning of the world, 75% of the way God communicated to man was through stories. The Biblical story is that God created a world and then invited mankind to live in that world. The Bible is a story of reconciliation and redemption.

Today there is an even bigger emphasis on storytelling. People love stories. People flock to movies all over the world. From Hollywood to Bollywood, the movie industry is big business because people love to be entertained by stories. Millions of people sit in front of their TV watching daytime and evening soap operas. Many of these people are addicted. People can get absorbed into a story so deeply that they accept it as truth even if it is fiction!

For a good book on this topic, read "The Power of the Story" by Leighton Ford