Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas in Golden Hill


Colin, Derek and John, originally uploaded by hallywood.
A liturgical expression of 4th Sunday of Advent.
Christmas carols.
Tamales and Cuban black beans.
And a rousing white elephant gift exchange.

It was a good Christmas dinner with friends in Golden Hill.

> more photos

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Nick, David and little Carlos


Nick, David and little Carlos, originally uploaded by hallywood.
The weekend before last, a group of us traveled 90 miles south of the border into Mexico to an area about 10 miles below Ensenada. There, we landed at Casa Esperanza (Hope House), a shelter for women who are victims of domestic abuse, and their children.

It was a dirty, wonderful, magical weekend, spent with new and old friends, serving, working, laughing, praying, and sharing lives with some of the least among those living in this border region of Mexico.

Shelters for women in Mexico are rare. The problem of domestic abuse goes largely ignored in this culture, but a deep culture wound it is. Women who manage to escape abusive relationships typically have no where to go. This makes Casa Esperanza more than a special place.

I've been to Casa Esperanza a number of times, and among the many things that stand out to me, are the children. Specifically, how the children react to men being at Esperanza.

Most of these kids have never had a positive male role model in their lives. Most don't know what's it's like to have a dad playing with them, having a catch, kicking the futbol around, or just hanging out. Many have been abused in unimaginable ways.

So when I see one of the guys in our group taking time out from a serving project or task to play with a kid, play tag with them, kick a ball, or hoist them up onto shoulders, I am warmed in ways beyond words.

Some kids embrace this attention immediately. Others seem to take time to warm up to the idea of a man who may be fun, playful or affectionate in honest, loving ways. Yet embrace they do. Their eyes light up. Hearts melt. And it is in these moments I feel I see the very expression of Jesus himself.

/jon

Friday, October 30, 2009

Prep for Sunday

U2 at the Rose Bowl

-We have read through the Gospel and now we want to reflect on what we read. Just like what Rob said on Sunday, we want to share when the kingdom came alive to you. You can share a passage or a story or something that we talked about on Sunday.

-It would be cool if you could share by having some type of creative expression such as a picture, song, poem, art piece, food, or anything you want.

-It would also be cool if everyone could share something so come prepared.

-We are also going to have the cover contest for the best Gospel cover. If you haven't done anything yet you still have time. There will be a prize for the winner!!!

Scan the entire Gospel for something to share about what you learned of the kingdom and it coming alive to you.

Here's an example for me about the kingdom coming alive. I am on a U2 kick so I decided to go with one of there songs.

Miracle Drug

Grupo Mexico


Grupo Mexico, originally uploaded by hallywood.
Shot through the back window of the van, as we were leaving the colonia of Grupo Mexico.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A day in Tijuana


Grupo Mexico, originally uploaded by hallywood.

A group of us spent the day earlier this week in Tijuana, learning about Tijuana's history, experiencing some of it's profound contrasts, and meeting some of its amazing people. Its border crossing with San Diego is the most-crssed border in the world (300,000 people a day), is 15 minutes from our community of Golden Hill, and is part of the 5 million person metro area of San Diego and Tijuana. There's so much more to Tijuana than the kitschy (and these days, ghostown-ish) Avenida de Revolucion. We spent the day just beginning to peek below the surface of this amazing city, which one resident called "the most evangelized city in the world."

More photos here.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Map of Golden Hill


View Golden Hill in a larger map

We've got a very preliminary map of our neighborhood, setup on Google Maps. Some of our homes, local eateries, bike shops and coffee shops are indicated. Lots more to be added.

/jon

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Chris's 30th Piñata



Mop handle wouldn't work. Resorted to throwing a football to bust it open, then all mayhem broke lose, as friends, family and colleagues resorted to pile-on tactics. Oh, what people will do for some taffy and smarties.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Sleepless in San Diego

Some of us in NieuCommunities San Diego are turning up the volume, listening to God, exploring and learning about the growing homeless problem here in San Diego. We're praying and listening, looking for where God is at work, and where (and how) he might have us join Him in loving some of the hardest to love in our neighborhood. It's something most of us see everyday on our streets.

Over the last year, homelessness grew 13% in San Diego county, to nearly 8,000 people. Over 2,000 of those are kids. One of the groups we're learning about is San Diego Youth Services, who work to help kids on the streets. There's an effort underway to raise money to build a facility here in San Diego specifically for homeless youth. Check out this video, which spells out some of the reality of homeless kids in our city, and talks a bit more about one effort this group is undertaking to do something about it.

Campaign for Abandoned Youth Trailer: www.stayclassy.org from StayClassy.org on Vimeo.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Entijuanarte



Last weekend, a group of us attended Entijuanarte, an art and music event held once a year in Tijuana. It was an amazing experience, with art that was surprising in it's diversity, message and innovation. We met and talked with a number of the artists, including painters, photographers and entrepreneurial creatives making a living with their art. Entijuanarte opened my eyes to the amazing creativity going on in Tijuana. More than that though, Peter Schrock, who came along with me, had a great observation.

He said that it seemed many of "the art and artists at Entijuanrte seem to be part of a larger, global conversation going on." I couldn't agree more.

Through the language of art, these Tijuana artists are part of (and contributing to) the global conversation that's taking place. Worldwide in scope, it's a conversation thats subtle, and can only be heard (or seen, as it were) if you're looking for it. And it happens on another plane, one not bounded by borders, politics or language. It's informed and influenced by those realities, but not bounded by them.
We saw many hints of this at Entijuanarte; from the art of Tecui, the enterprising artist who draws inspiration from the Baja landscape, and creates whimsical, simple illustrations and characters, carrying a consistent theme across canvas and products alike; from a photographer who shoots amazing masterpieces of landscapes in Chile, crafting the end result with Ansel Adams-like craftsmanship and ability, only he's using 21st century tools; from a printmaker who also works in both Mexico Italy, creating very personal art that addresses social issues; and from artists who had more of a street art style, creating work on cardboard and canvas with equal excellence.

All these artists live in Tijuana by choice. Their styles and abilities easily stand alongside some of the best artists globally. Some of their techniques and styles were familiar, clearly informed and influenced by what is happening in the world art scene. Yet their work was anything but "me too" mimickery. It was expressive, and contained personal, local influences that make it truly unique to Tijuana.

It was a truly powerful and inspiring listening and viewing experience. How fortunate we are to live next door to this great city.

/jon

Saturday, October 3, 2009

South Park Walkabout


Walkabout, originally uploaded by hallywood.

Four times a year, our neighboring community of South Park hosts a "Walkabout," where the community comes out in force, businesses are open late, and it's one big street and sidewalk gathering. Good times.

More photos here.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Gospel Reflection Correction

I made a mistake with the page numbers this time.
We need to read through the top of 110.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Gospel Reflection


Jesus calls us to lead by serving one another. As we read on Sunday, a great example of what that looks like is the story of the sheep and the goats. This is a challenge that we must always keep in front of us reminding us how we must lead.

For Sunday Read through the top of page 102.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

On our way to the Tiki Party


An interesting thing happened on our way to the Tiki Party last night.



Seems too much to share in a posting but we crashed a movie night at Latte Mi Corazon and ended up meeting Kevin LaChapelle: x-cop, now director of Power Mentor… He has a neat story and he was thrilled to meet us in the proces. ChrisTiana can tell the story better than I can but it was really interesting what Kevin does and who he is. Kevin told his painful yet triumphant story with joy… I think we all sensed that he felt blessed meeting us. That’s so funny because I think we felt the same way about meeting him.



Then we went to the Tiki Party where the rest of Ncom started making fun of me. I really don’t know why. It may have had something to do with not knowing Hector and Mariana or Marianna’s Tia who needs the cornea transplant. So why did everyone actually think I knew these people before hand…? I don’t know…but a stranger is a friend we haven’t met yet, right?

But while the rest stayed clumped making fun of me (just kidding), I (we) met Pachuco Jose. Jose was born in San Salvador but calls LA home. He has more of a stroy that he could tell last night night but he is a Latino 'Pachuco' musician that gives his time and talent to raising funds for those that need cornea transplants or maybe lost a loved one and needs help raising fund for funeral expenses. He taught me something about giving it away.



Peter stayed after we left. I would really enjoy hearing how it went Peter.

Shaun

Friday, September 25, 2009

Tree Sculpture


Tree Sculpture, originally uploaded by hallywood.

Pretty cool work of art with some interesting inscriptions, in the garden next to the Einstein school.

/jon

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Gospel Reflection


Hopefully you have taken the initiative and read ahead since I was so late in giving the page numbers. This next section is full of grace, judgment, warnings, woes, practical ministry idea's, servant leadership, a last supper and betrayal. Needless to say there is a lot in this section. I would love to focus on being a servant leader and what that practically means for us in relationships with one another, with those in Golden Hill, in South Park, in City Heights and beyond. We need to me sheep on goats. There might even be drawing involved (yippee).

For Sunday Read 92 through the middle of page 102, ending with "And it was night."

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Tangible, Sobering Kingdom


It's been nearly 3 weeks since I posted about Cynthia, an artist living on the streets of Golden Hill. I created an online store to help sell her bookmark-sized original works of art, put the word out to friends, and those first sevens pieces of art sold in a single day. It was more than a little bit awesome.

I couldn't wait to see Cynthia and tell her the good news. It took though nearly 3 weeks to track her down. The cell phone number I had for her didn't work, and I hadn't seen her in the neighborhood.

On Saturday afternoon though, while I was in the front of the house watering the grass, I heard a "hello." Looking up, there she was. "Hey Cynthia! I've got some good news for you." I can hardly describe how good it felt to say those words to her. Sophia and I invited her inside, talked a bit, and gave her the thirty dollars from selling her work on Etsy. She hung out for awhile, met our girls and my mom, and told us some more about our home "back in the day," when it was a run-down drug house. She's been in the neighborhood for many years, and has seen a lot.

On Sunday night she came back with over a hundred new works of art for me to look at, and choose which to post online. As we spread them out on the table that night, and looked through every single one, we were amazed both at her talent, and the hope that this seemed to represent.

She was back over again Monday night, signing the ones we're going to post online. We had a good conversation, heard a bit more of her story, and got to finally pray with her. It felt good, hopeful, and right. I also saw though some of the pain in Cynthia, hearing a bit more about some of what she's up against, some of her pain and loss, and how her life has been—in her words—on a decline for a long time.

She told us of her Van Gogh dreams, only unlike Vincent, she'd like to earn the money from her art before she dies. I don't know what will come of selling her art online. Really though, I'm not sure this is really all about money and selling art. That's part of it. There's something though about getting to know Cynthia and hearing her story. She's part of my neighborhood and the pain of it's past. And in a small way, I guess she's becoming a part of my family's story. I still don't know her well, and we had to have some sobering conversations with the girls about the realities of entering into the lives of desperate people who are hanging on by a thread. I've been involved in the lives of people struggling with homelessness, addiction and other demons, and it can be a really sticky, uncomfortable, difficult mess.

I also know though, that that's where Jesus is. On the street, in the pain of addiction, loss, and struggle. He's also in the passion and hope of cool art, and what it represents. He's in the good news of thirty bucks when it's really needed, a glass of cold water and a listening ear. He's in the eyes of Sophia, my mom and girls, as I watched them invite Cynthia into our home, treating her just like any other friend we might have over.

I know a little bit more of what Jesus looks like over these last few days, and it feels really, really good.

If you want to check out Cynthia's art, you can visit her Etsy store here.

/jon

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Brain Trust

A group in nearby North Park, called Agitprop, is doing some very cool things in furthering community connecting and conversations around the medium of art. I'm really inspired by what I continued to see from these guys. Check out my post about it here.

/jon

Casa de Esperanza


Casa de Esperanza, originally uploaded by hallywood.

On Nov 20-22, 2009, a group of us are headed to Casa de Esperanza, located just south of Ensenada, to engage in some "tangible kingdom" efforts.

Casa de Esperanza (House of Hope) is a home for women who are victims of domestic abuse, and their children. With 65 residents, only two full-time staff and extremely limited resources, their needs are significant. We'll be partnering with our friends Reflejo, and a church from Orange County (TerraNova) in a three day experience of working and connecting with the women and kids of Esperanza.

Space is limited, so if you're interested, let me know pronto. Just comment on this post and I'll get back to you with details.

/jon

Friday, September 18, 2009

Two Cities...

San Diego/Tijuana
the most trafficked border in the world (70,000 a day).
Are they two cities, or one large integrated zone?


Shoppers cross the border, in both directions.
Families cross the border, in both directions.
Students cross the border, in both directions.
Church groups cross the border (maybe in just one direction).

It's an interesting question,
what does it mean to you to cross the border?

What are you looking for when you do?




The border as it extends into the ocean.
Families used to touch hands here,
Priests used to serve communion also.
But now there is a no-man's-land
in between and people can't approach the fence.




Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Glimpse of the Tangible Kingdom

G
I picked up the book, "Re Jesus" by Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch this week. Chaz, Rebecca, Peter, Derek and I had started reading it together when we all still lived in LA. It was one of those books that got shuffled around in our move to San Diego and I'm not sure that any of us had a chance to finish it.

This morning I experienced something beautiful of the tangible Kingdom of God. Frost and Hirsch say, "...we are never alone when we do a holy deed because we partner with God in the redemption of the world. In other words, a deed done in His name is a means of Grace, a sacrament........and grace goes two ways: such an action pulls a person away from their own self-involved concerns and directs them missionally toward other human beings in such a way that they, the person acted upon and the person acting find God in a new way." (p.152)

Right after I read this quote and the words surrounding it, I heard someone yell out from the street in front of our house, "Ken, wait! We have something for you! Its a surprise!" I quickly looked out our window to see who it was.

Ken is a homeless man who walks by our house in the morning and evening every day. He wears all black and carries three large canvas bags. I've seen the couple who live across the street from us talking to him once or twice but this morning they stopped right in front of our window so I got to listen in.

The husband stood and talked with Ken while the wife rain into their home to get her "surprise" for Ken. I so enjoyed watching them interact....tears filled my eyes as I felt God was revealing Himself to me through this couple's act of love toward Ken. The wife ran out of the house with a new pair of jeans, nicely folded, and a banana. Ken had a big smile on his face in responded in gratefulness for the jeans and said, ".... and Bananas are my favorite."

I haven't met this neighbor couple yet but I want to. I don't know if they know Jesus yet. And I want to tell them that they encouraged me with their act of love toward Ken.

I have to add to Frost and Hirsch's quote.... not only does the person acted upon and the person acting find God in a new way but maybe the people looking out their windows get to find God in a new way too. :)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Celebrating Rebecca



On Friday we celebrated Rebecca's Birthday with a surprise costume party! Costume parties seem to bring out everyone's true colors..... :)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Gospel Reflection



Jesus desperately wanted the Lost Sheep of Israel to know Him as their savior but so many rejected Him. This broke His heart. They were looking for something else while Jesus was pointing at Himself. He did not do what they thought He should do and they missed Him. I think we do the same thing today by expecting Jesus to act according to our theology and not according to His character. Maybe that is why He told John's disciples to "not fall away on account of Him." We must learn to follow the Jesus of the Bible and not the Jesus of our dreams. That is the only way we will experience true life.
This week we are looking at Jesus' entry into Jerusalem. He wept for the city. Pay attention to the differences between what the people wanted and what Jesus was offering.

Read through the middle of page 92.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Investing in the Tangible Kingdom

Inspired by the book we're currently going through, The Tangible Kingdom, today I set up an Etsy Store for a local street artist (that is, an artist living on the street) in our neighborhood. She signs her art "incinders," but her name is Cynthia.

Instead of pan-handling, Cynthia creates original, one-of-a-kind bookmark-sized original works of art and sells them on the streets of Golden Hill to passers-by. She creates her art on found scraps of cardboard, packaging, gum-wrappers and paper. Using paint, markers and pens, Cynthia's style is whimsical and expressive, belying her harsh reality of spending her days on the street.

Since moving to Golden Hill in Fall '08, I would buy Cynthia's bookmark-sized art whenever I saw her on the street. Her story, only part of which I've heard, is one of heart-break and recovering addiction. But it's also a story of hope. Inspired by her upbeat attitude and use of her talent to try and generate a meager income, I decided to share the love by setting up an Etsy store to sell some of her work online.

The Incinders Etsy store is here. For six or seven bucks (come on, that's like NOTHING for original one-of-a-kind art!), I'll include shipping. Buy more than one, and the shipping on additional items is free. 100% of your purchase goes directly to Cynthia.

— Jon

Friday, September 4, 2009

Articles on Golden Hill History



I found these articles in Espresso (tell me what this means - an independent newspaper for café society). One is on Judy's "Big Kitchen" Café and the other on San Diego History:

Big Kitchen - 29 years in Golden Hill

San Diego's 240th Anniversary Goes Unsung




Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Gospel Reflection


Jesus is passionate, intentse, focused, couragous, loving, compassionate, kind and always radical to the surrounding culture. We saw something change in Him this last week as soon as Peter said that He was the Christ. Now He has set his face toward Jerusalem and He knows what is comming next.
In this next section we see Jesus telling multiple parables and teachings. Pay attention to themes that you see, new ones and ones that would connect to what we have already read.

(Read through the top of page 80)

Sunday, August 30, 2009

A day in Ensenada



Some of us spent the day in Ensenada re-connecting with some friends and visiting Casa de Esperanza, a home for women and their children who are victims of domestic abuse.

Friday, August 28, 2009

nearly haiku


Jasmine, originally uploaded by hallywood.

Summer morning sun
walking. praying. laughing. listening.
A Jasmine blooms, and I stop.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Gospel Reflection



This week we are going to see Jesus continue to set the stage for his crucifixion. He knows what He has come to do and He stays on the course. This is the only way for us to know the Father. I am so thankful that Jesus stayed on course, if not, we would not be here in NieuCommunities today.

As of now I would love to focus on the story of Peter acknowledging Jesus as the Christ. If there is any insight that you might have, or could look up that would help us all understand the significance of the moment, that would be wonderful. We are going to be looking at a video that has given me a great understanding of the moment.

(Read to the top of 69)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Gospel Reflection



We had a great conversation on Sunday night about laying down our fears and our worries. Many times we have to bring those very same fears and worries to Jesus daily. I would encourage you to continue to lay them down. Jesus tells us we have nothing to fear! That is good news.

Feel free to leave comments about things you are learning or questions that you may have. It would help us all.

(For Aug 23 read from bottom of 47 through the second paragraph on 57)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Fire on Earth


I was reading this morning and came across a passage that has always bothered me. I don't understand everything that is going on so I would read it and just keep going. Today I decided to sit with it a little longer hope to find so new insight. The passage is at the top of page 41. "I have come to bring fire..." paragraph. What really bothered me was that Jesus, the Prince of Peace said that He did not come to bring peace but division and that families will be divided against each other. This seems at odds with other things that Jesus has said before. I did a little research and found and great article on it. It was helpful for me in processing so I thought it might be helpful for others. Here is the link if you would like to read it http://www.theocentric.com/spirituality/suffering/set_the_world_on_fire.html.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Gospel Relfection


This past Sunday night was great being at the beach and worshiping together in God's creation. We discussed the story of the woman washing Jesus' feet with her tears at a Pharisees house. This is such a powerful story of Jesus' love and grace. I would love to hear some of your reflections on the story and what you learned. I would also love to hear of anything else that might have stood out in the pages between 26 - 35. Feel free to leave a comment so we can learn together.

(Reading for Sunday Aug 16th, pages 36 thru the bottom of 47)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Gospel Reflections


So far we have read the birth are Jesus and the beginning of His ministry. There have been really great conversations happening on Sunday nights. I know that there are many more conversations that can happen but we don't always have the time for. Therefore, we are going to be able to continue the conversation here. Comment on different things that you read or heard.

It could be cool to reflect on what we have read so far and share it with the rest of us. Feel free to comment below.

Derek

(For this Sunday, Aug 9 we will be reading threw the bottom of page 35.)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Big Bear Retreat

Morning Prayer

Last night, Peter, Derek and I decided to flip through the pages of a hymnal together to see how many we knew. Well, truth is, it started off as a competition between Peter and myself as we both grew up with hymns and have hundreds (maybe thousands!) tucked away in the back of our brains! Derek didn't grow up with Hymns but has grown to love them in the last several years.

Hymns are rich in story, theology and heritage. We stumbled on some beautiful hymns written hundreds of years ago with powerful melodies and words. Songs like "Near the Cross," and "Be Still my Soul."

This particular Hymnal was published in the 70's. Interwoven between the songs were quotes and prayers and scripture which added texture and meaning to the hymns of old. One of the prayers, associated with the Hymn, "Day by Day," was particularly meaningful to me.

Morning Prayer
by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

O God
Early in the morning do I cry unto Thee.
Help me to pray.
And to think only of Thee.
I cannot pray alone.

In me there is darkness.
But with Thee there is light.
I am lonely, but Thou leavest me not.
I am feeble in heart, but Though leavest me not.
I am restless, but with Thee there is peace.
In me there is bitterness, but with Thee there is patience;
Thy ways are past understanding but
Thou knowest the way for me.

O heavenly Father,
I praise and thank Thee
For the peace of the night.
I praise and thank Thee for this new day.
I praise and thank Thee for all Thy goodess
and faithfulness throughout my life.
Thou hast granted me many blessings:
Now let me accept tribulation
from Thy hand.
Thou will not lay on me more than I can bear.
Thou makest all things work together for good for Thy Children.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Brittney's Mokkatam poem

A poem from Brittney Yackley written from the garbage city of Mokattam, Egypt:

This place is dirty, rank, filthy.
I think mostly now about the flies.
They love the putrid smell,
The decomposition, the heat.
They rise, circle, swarm.
I think of this village, of these people:

Hasn’t God chosen the poor in this world To be rich in faith?
Aren’t they the ones who will inherit the kingdom
He promised to those who love Him?


And I think you and the flies
Have similar ideas about
What makes perfect living conditions.
The babies’ faces are crawling with flies –
In the doorway of Om Ibrahim’s one-room
Hovel they pass freely.
They dance in the stairwell of the school.
Flies love stench, decay, neglect.

The flies love poverty, it’s where they thrive.
Where the flies go, so too do you.
The poor are your chosen people
Your Israel, your Covenant.
Among the poor you move, you abide, you alight.
Your spirit surrounds your people
Like a swarm.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Is it about them? Or us? Or... both?




Jason Evans recently posted some terrific thoughts based on the passage 1 Kings 17:8-16, on what it means for us, as followers of Christ, to engage those in need.

"In this passage, Elijah is instructed to ask a poor widow for assistance. She has barely enough to feed herself and her son. She believes they are on the brink of death. Yet, God prompts Elijah to ask the widow to make him a meal. Can you imagine asking someone in a bread line to make you a meal?! There is a profound lesson for people of privilege to learn from this passage of what it means to be with people in need. Conversely, there is a profound lesson for people in need to learn from this passage of what it means to be with people of privilege."

Read his entire post here. Great stuff that should inform us a bit in how we need to engage those on the margins.

/jon

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

telephone


telephone, originally uploaded by hallywood.

Chaz and Rebecca recently moved into an apartment complex, South Park Villas, on A street, and have already been making some stellar connections with the neighbors. They conspired with a neighbor to throw a mini block party among some of the families in their complex last weekend. Hilda, who lives in the apartment just below Chaz and Rebecca, speaks no English, and Rebecca speaks no Spanish, but that didn't stop anyone. Somehow, they figured it all out, made great food, and got everyone to the same place at the same time.

The South Park Villas (a misnomer on a many levels) has a bunch of kids living there. Seeing as how we've got kids, Rebecca and Chaz invited us to join the shindig. It was a great time. Food, jumprope, tag in the park, and even a game of telephone.

After the brutal beating I took in a game of freeze tag (old and slow don't begin to say how bad I was at this game), I sat down and soaked in the scenery. Chaz was playing soccer with some of the local latino guys (he's really good). Rebecca was coordinating a game of telephone with the kids (she definitely has a way with kids). The afternoon was perfect, and I realized how blessed we are to have opportunities like this. Hanging out with friends. Making new friends. Playing games. Submerging into the neighborhood. Being the church. Whatever you want to call it, I sensed God in all of it, and it was good.

/jon

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Broken ...

Last night was a good night. As a community we discussed lots of great stuff. Rob led a talk based on Luke 5:17-26, the story of a paralyzed man and his 4 mat carrying friends who were willing to break through a roof to get their friend to Jesus so that he could be healed. Not only did he receive healing of his body, but Jesus forgave his sins and healed his soul.

It's a great story about how we all need to be carried at times and how we can be "roof crashing" friends and carry others through their times of "paralysis" or pain.

Back in June I had posted a song on my blog as something I loved, not exactly explaining why. So after last night, and Jon asking me why I liked the song. Here's a little more explanation.

The group is Jason Zerbin, the song is Into Your Arms. I like the type of music, especially the string parts. Also, the video itself is very artistic and I like the setting. But the main thing I like is the message, we are all broken people and even though we are in a missional community seeking to find and love the broken in the world, we ourselves are broken and need God to hold us in His arms so that we can show that kind of love to the unloveable in our world. I guess, mostly I like the message. It's not just a song for your ears, it's also for your heart. - Sophia

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Psalm 146 comes alive

For our Sunday night gatherings, we've been taking turns sharing our favorite Psalm. This past Sunday night, Derek shared Psalm 146 with the group. We read it through a few times, pulling out some of our favorite lines and text. Then we did something completely unique. Derek led us in a rapid-fire effort to write a song based on this Psalm. It was a true group effort, as we brainstormed key lines and verses, then assembled them into a song. Chorus, verses and a bridge all came together, making the Psalm into something more than just words on a page. It made it more real, more true.

The following recording is rough (recorded from my phone). The song is unpolished and unedited, and our backup voices don't exactly help Derek and Christiana's wonderful pipes. Still, there was something good in all this. Like Derek says in his closing prayer, "I believe that God is pleased by things like this... when we do it together."

(Derek, please forgive me for posting this without your polish and excellence, and from my hack recording, but I just had to!)

Discover Simple, Private Sharing at Drop.io

Saturday, June 6, 2009

NC San Diego and Vancouver at the beach



Our friends from NC Vancouver came down for a few days, and we hit the beach at Coronado for some Coronado Rules beach football and bonfire. (make sure and click the full-size icon in the lower right)

Friday, June 5, 2009

4mat



A handful of us from NieuCommunities San Diego and Vancouver attended an intensive one-day workshop on a very cool teaching curriculum called 4mat. Some good hands-on, interaction, and a headful of information that should really help us in our time of teaching and coaching. Thankfully, there were elements of drawing as well, which saved those of us who sometimes numb with so much information.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

frank viola on organic church

If you want to hear a provocative take on a Trinitarian expression of church, carve out 30 minutes and click here to listen to Frank Viola bring it in his always passionate way.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

joining the conversation




I'm a fan of a few organizations' Facebook pages... Balboa Park. A couple of non-profits. A local art museum, and Wooster Collective, one of my fav online street art blogs.

I like how Wooster uses Facebook. They've recently been posting questions that are relevant to those who follow them, questions that invite people into the conversation about their passion—street art. And it got me thinking about the questions we were pondering tonight about our neighborhood, and how we might join conversations already taking place.

Wooster keeps me thinking about street art through their FB questions, and invites folks into the conversation. "Mapping the hood" is another great expression of inviting people into a conversation that matters. It's an interactive art installation in North Park, and is brilliantly furthering—and inviting people into—the conversation about what their community is becoming.

It's all got me thinking both about the medium and the message of these conversations we're having, and what it may look like to join others' conversations already taking place, as well as inviting others into ours.

— Jon

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Voices: Mapping the Hood

On Sunday we visited the North Park Festival of the Arts, and stumbled across "Voices: Mapping the Hood." It's an interactive art installation in North Park that invites people to join the conversation on what makes a great community. Some really terrific concepts here that are provocative and engaging. Really great use of the medium.

I describe the photos in my Flickr set.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Our First Road Trip



April 2-5 was our first Beyond Borders Road Trip. We set aside the weekend to invite people into our rhythms of communion with God, community with each other and missional life in our neighborhood and city.

The weekend started off with a day in Golden Hill and our surrounding neighborhoods. We explored, engaged in conversation about what God is doing in San Diego and feasted on street tacos in Logan Heights.

Saturday morning we left for Ensenada, Mexico. We spent the day at Casa Esperanza, a homeless shelter for women and children. After some painting and playing with the kids we enjoyed a meal together and ended the day by sharing our life stories with one another.

We were introduced to Casa Esperanza by "Reflejo," a collective of Mexican Christ followers who share life together as they serve Jesus in their own neighborhoods and city. One of the most exciting things about the relationships we're building in Mexico is the partnership that's beginning to form between NieuCommunities and Reflejo. We've found a common heart beat with them and are beginning to link arms and dream about how God might be bringing us together for ministry.

The Road Trip ended on sunday evening after a fairly long wait to cross the border at Tecate. Individually and collectively God planted some significant seeds in all of us that are already beginning to grow and produce fruit. The best is yet to come! :)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

discipling our children


I was just reading a blog post by Hugh Halter on kids and home groups...

http://hughhalter.com/?p=83

...and it challenged me to think about ways our community could more intentionally disciple our children. Utilizing other churches to do it is certainly an option, especially if they're geared up for it. But I'm not sure a healthy community should ever fully outsource the discipleship of their children. So consider this an invitation to think with us about creative ways we could nurture our whole community...even the littlest ones among us.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Staff Meetings


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Listening to the streets



A couple of Saturday's ago, Emily, some friends of hers from church, my buddy Bobby and I spent a fascinating day exploring and listening to a side of Golden Hill and downtown that I haven't had much exposure to, the homeless. The kids had made blankets that they handed out to people in Ocean Beach, in Golden Hill and on 16th street in downtown, where the homeless tend to gather. It was a real learning experience, as we walked and talked with folks living on the street (got some great insight, as well as some cautions from them). We also spent time in the morning helping pack gleaned groceries with an amazing local group in Golden Hill called City of Refuge.

City of Refuge is located in a back alley off 25th street in GH. They have a room with sofas where kids can hang out, and an outdoor area with killer street art.

Can't wait to do more!

Monday, March 9, 2009

A weeked in Porvenir



We spent the weekend in the small town of Porvenir, in a beautiful valley east of Ensenada. Some very kind friends gave us their home to stay in. It was a great time to connect with the whole team, share life and our timelines, chow on some great tacos, taste some Baja wine, and enjoy this magnificently beautiful place.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Diving Deeper ...

posted by Sophia




This past Tuesday night we started a new conversation that will take a few weeks to unwrap, we started the night off by exploring the meaning of "deep culture" beyond the visible surface; way down deep were we find behaviors, values, beliefs and perceived world view.

I'm really finding all this fascinating since I'm still processing even what I know about my own culture, having been raised as both an American and Mexican. I'm looking forward to the next few weeks of learning how to ask the right questions and how not to assume to know why people of a certain culture "do what they do" and to make sense of what is seen as true and good, and most importantly was is real.

So on that note, I thought it appropriate timing to share this cool little animated short, "The Return of Superbarrio" (La Vuelta de Superbarrio), in Spanish with English subtitles.

Superbarrio Gómez is a "living superhero" in Mexico. According to Wikipedia he's a real guy named Marco Rascón Córdova, who seeks to fight injustice and corruption on both sides of the US/Mexico border through protests, civil disobedience, and political action.

I also read an informative essay about SuperBarrio's life, and it concluded with this great summary;

By implication, to believe in Superbarrio is to believe in a collective struggle that functions regionally and operates as a social movement across borders. To believe in Superbarrio is to believe in us as transnational social agents. Beneath the mask, we are all Superbarrio.


So with that in mind, I hope you enjoy this video that presents some interesting perspectives.

ps. You get extra points if you pick up some new spanish vocabulary words!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

i will rise

posted by Laurie...

I will rise everyday
And I will give my life away.
My better years are still to come,
Remember this when my life's done
That I will rise...

- Kate White from her Turning Pages CD)

On Monday night in a hundred year old Victorian house that's been turned into a recovery home in our neighborhood, my dear friend Kate performed a concert for 43 women gathered around on the chairs and floor. Kate sang, played her violin and tenderly shared her story. Over the course of the next couple of hours she connected with these women that she'd never met before in an incredibly deep way. My teammates Britany and Sophia and I were able to be there too and meet these women who were warm and receptive.
Kate sang and talked about her family, her own marriage and her children, things that all these women could relate to. At one point, she asked all the women to say out loud altogether the names of their children. It was so touching and heart-wrenching to hear moms call out from all over the room the names of their missed children. Kate really wanted to pray a blessing over their children so she asked for permission to pray for all of them. There was probably not a dry eye in the room.

Many pieces of Kate's life story intersected with theirs and although she didn't pretend to understand everything they've gone through, they really seemed to relate to her. We had been told we couldn't “proselytize” nor had we intended to, but as Kate shared her journey she sensed that many of the women desired to know God. So she shared how she had wrestled with trusting God and with the questions and pain she had experienced, but also how she had come to trust Him and give her life to Him.

After the concert, the women came up and hugged us and thanked us for coming. Some of them shared a little of their stories with us…. painful and sad stories. One woman asked Kate how she could know God too and if she needed a priest to be able to do that. So Kate told her she would pray with her and show her how. Some others next to her said they also wanted to know God and before we knew it, almost every woman in the house formed a circle, holding hands. I'll never forget that moment when Kate led them in prayer to receive Jesus as their Savior. They repeated after her, loud and clear "Lord Jesus! I've messed up! Come into my life..." Only God knows which women actually gave their lives to Jesus that night. Some of the women were already followers of Jesus and it was encouraging to see how they came up and began helping the others.

This week we’re going to take a copy of each of Kate's CD's to each of the women and we're listening to see how else God wants us to be involved with these dear women in our neighborhood. We may be able to walk with them, do crafts with them, or just hang out with them. They're in a very structured program so we're not sure how much we'll be allowed to be involved. When you think of it, please pray for these women, for those who gave their lives to God, to grow in Him, as they do the hard work of recovery from addiction. And as they miss their children and families.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Ah Colossians... what a book!


I have included a bit of an update on our study through the book of Colossians here!

It's entitled "The fold in the middle of a book".

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Mariscos German



Had a working lunch at Mariscos German in Logan Heights today. Awesome. Absolutely awesome.

— Jon

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

listening prayer

We've been thinking and talking about hearing God's Word through all the ways God might want to communicate. Last night we practiced listening to God as a community. Here is some of what we heard, sensed, imagined, and felt last night as we listened for God's Word to come to us and guide us as we consider our presence south of the fence:

• Jeremiah 29:11-13: For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
• Matthew 25:35-36: For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.
• 1 Corinthians 13:13: And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
• Matthew 22:39: (2nd greatest command): "Love your neighbor as yourself."
• The image of a thread of leaders weaving it's way down the coast.
• James 1:27: Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.
• Bringing 2 worlds together
• Being both here and there through the bigger church, the community of believers, through the Body straddling the border
• Reflection (Reflejo)...the image of a mirror...seeing ourselves through others...with others
• New sojourners...people joining us who would not have come before
• Mark 2: Making our way through the crowds; being willing to cut a hole in the roof or to go against what is normally accepted in order to get people to Jesus.

We don't know what all this means. But somewhere in there is God's gentle voice. So lets keep listening. Lets seek understanding. And then lets respond.

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Discipline of Thankfulness

As our community starts up it's first spiritual discipline - The Discipline of Thankfulness - I offer up this prayer for myself and for us all!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Hope for 2009

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Inside out

Colossians 2:6-8
Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.
See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.
I was sharing yesterdays story (on my blog) about Chase at our community time because it related to a passage that we are studying as we read through the book of Colossians together.

It is amazing how we look to, even rely upon, these external philosophies, traditions and principles to guide us as we live our lives. Like a crutch - or maybe a leash - to keep our hearts under control and give our lives direction. I suppose there are many reasons... a fear of sin, failure, success. But us humans migrate to them religiously, politically and socially all the time. It seems a lot like the difference between having a dog on a leash versus having a dog that is attentive to (even "in love with") it's owner... ready to move, ready to turn... looking for that change in stride or turn of head.

We can feel the battle that is taking place between walking with/in Christ and allowing ourselves to be controlled or guided by external devices but it can be tough to see the differences. In Colossians 2 we see some examples of what these two types of lives can look like:

External = philosophies/empty deceit, human tradition, elemental spirits/principles, false asceticism and worship, puffed up sensual mind/ideas, not holding fast to Christ, etc.

Internal = rooted and built up in Christ, established in faith, taught, thankful, being filled, changed/circumcised heart, made alive... and debt free, holding fast to the head which is Christ, etc.


At the heart of this passage is this simple, powerful truth:
Jesus is more interested in remaking us from the inside out than he is with us adhering to a list of rules.

He desires a heart that walks with Him.

We left our time together with two questions:
Where am I relying on a leash/rule to govern my soul instead of nurturing this profound relationship with Christ?
Where do I see a flicker of this walk inside my heart that needs to be fanned into a passionate flame?

Monday, January 26, 2009

car doc

Finding a trustworthy repair shop to take our cars to is always worth sharing. I think I found a great one. Sean (the owner) of Advantec in University Heights is one of those guys who tells you the cheapest way to fix something, the most thorough way to do it, and what he would do if it was his car. He seems super qualified, thrifty, honest, and personable. Plus his shop gets great write-ups on Yelp:

http://www.yelp.com/biz/advantec-auto-repair-san-diego

It's only my first repair there, but I'd definitely come back. And there's a great coffee shop (Twiggs) two doors with free wireless which isn't a bad place to hang out while they're working on your car!

Friday, January 23, 2009

A day in Ensenada



We had a great day yesterday in Ensenada. Met some great new friends that are part of the intentional community of Reflejo in Ensenada. Visited Yugo, and La Casa de Esperanza, a home for abused women and their children just south of Ensenada, near Punta Banda.

Friday, January 9, 2009

love your enemies

Here's an awesome video story of a Palestinian guy who just ended up in our backyard and in a different kingdom:

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,475226,00.html

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Secret Life of the Soul - chapters 13-15

The pursuit of love and esteem is easily—and all too often—christianized by simply mixing in large doses of church activities and religious behavior into our already busy lives to form a new, and hopefully valued morality. But this christianized life probably looks more like the lives of Pharisees than the life Jesus invited us to live.

How do you distinguish, in your life, the difference between this kind of christian performance and holy obedience? Some indications that it’s more ambition than spiritual might be:
- needing to control
- persistent anxiousness
- competing or comparing
- being fearful of being found out
- lack of peace or contentment
- often wondering what people think of me
- fear of failing or disappointing
What tips you off that a constructed personality may still be in power?

In our group we’ve had some push back that Miller’s Builders generation was more prone to ambition and wearing masks than more current generations. That’s probably true. But it’s probably also true that every generation is tempted to build personalities that their generation will find attractive and worthy of love and respect. What are some personality traits that might be tempting to put on in your context?

We’ve talked about the prison that pursuit puts our soul in. Miller claims the only way out of that prison, the only route to freedom is through an absolute surrender of the constructed personality and the soul to God. Paul Tournier compares that act of surrender to a trapeze artist swinging from one trapeze to the other. What does that require…from the trapeze artist and from us?

That moment of surrender is sometimes called a crisis of trust, and the truth is life is a series of crises. Why is it so hard for us to surrender?

What are the hardest pieces in your life to surrender?

How do you know when you’ve truly surrendered?

Have you had an experience of full surrender you could describe?

What did you experience? Fresh intimacy? A visceral sense of forgiveness? Greater clarity of purpose or meaning? A more durable sense of security? Feeling loved for who you really are? An ability to let go of the need to control? Something else?

Internal and external voices will tell us that surrender is a sign of weakness. Paul tells us something different in 2 Corinthians 12:9. How does that verse inform this conversation?

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Bringing Hope ...



I read this great article today, I've posted the first paragraph so that you can see what it's about. Reality Changers started right here in Golden Hill. It's a long read but very interesting and inspiring.

On a winter night in 2002, Christopher Yanov, the founder and sole staff member of Reality Changers, sat with a handful of eighth graders and their college-student tutors in a meeting room in the Iglesia Presbiteriana Hispana. The one-story stucco-and-cinderblock building that squats on the corner of 28th and B Street in Golden Hill looks more like an urban fort than a church. Steel bars cover its windows, hardened locks secure the wide front doors. Inside, Yanov and the tutors worked with students on their homework at folding tables, the quiet in the room punctuated by occasional murmured consultations.

Reality Changers, Yanov’s eighth-month-old program to help local youth stay out of gangs and aim for college, had an official census of 12. Attendance was normally spotty. Tonight he had 6. He didn’t know whether it was going to fly.


TO READ THE REST CLICK HERE

Friday, January 2, 2009

principles to consider when helping the poor

A friend of mine passed on this very helpful article by Bob Lupton. I thought I'd post it here for all us and our friends to consider as we seek to take a increasingly more holistic approach to serving the poor on both sides of the border:

Principles for Helpers by Bob Lupton
Hippocrates (460 – 377 B.C.), the father of modern medicine, recognized the power of the healing profession to effect great good as well as its potential to do much harm. The oath that he instituted, a pledge taken by doctors to this day, established ethical standards for physician conduct which included: patient confidentiality, referral for specialized treatment, sharing of medical knowledge, and valuing prevention above cure. The Hippocratic Oath requires that physicians be personal and caring, put the interests of patients first in medical decisions, strive always to preserve life and never play God by taking life. And above all, do no harm.

For centuries the Hippocratic Oath has served well the medical profession and countless millions of patients. It has guided physicians toward astounding medical breakthroughs as well as constrained them from endangering patient welfare by risking questionable treatments. Perhaps a similar type of code would be useful to those who wish to serve the poor. We know that helping can certainly be for better or worse. Even as a misdiagnosed ailment will lead to improper (even harmful) treatment, so wrongly given assistance may well prolong or even worsen the plight of the needy. Good intentions and kindhearted spirits, while commendable, are insufficient guarantees of positive outcomes. Unexamined service that risks leaving the served worse off than if they had been left alone is irresponsible if not unethical. Guiding principles are needed.

The following is an attempt to articulate a few such fundamentals to guide would-be helpers toward effective care-giving. These guidelines are drawn from the collective wisdom and experience of veteran servants who have spent good portions of their lives living and serving among the less-fortunate in a variety of cultures. The list is hardly exhaustive, and each item requires far more unpacking than this writing permits. Just as the Hippocratic Oath has for centuries provoked vigorous and sometimes heated debate among physicians and has required repeated modification to remain contemporary, even so should these “Principles for Helpers” stimulate healthy discussion and adaptation appropriate for the particular setting.

1. Is the need crisis or chronic? — Triage may be the appropriate intervention in an emergency situation but it is hardly the strategy for a continuing need. The victims of a devastating tsunami need immediate medical, shelter, essential supplies and hoards of volunteers. Over time, however, survivors need expert consultation, a practical plan and a combination of grants and loans to help them rebuild their destroyed community. A similar distinction should be applied to those who utilize our food pantries and clothes closets as well as to those we serve on our mission trips. If their situation is a matter of life or death, then immediate action must be taken to “stop the bleeding”; otherwise a plan for helping them rebuilding their lives is more appropriate. Just as a physician, before prescribing treatment, performs a diagnostic “physical” to determine the severity of an ailment, so must helpers take the time to discriminate between imminent life-threatening situations and chronic poverty needs. (Note: what may seem at first like a crisis to helpers may in fact be a chronic reality for the poor).

2. Investing is better than lending — Making money with the poor is the ultimate method of sharing resources (including expertise, connections, energy). It empowers them economically and strengthens their hand through authentic partnerships. Investing implies an ownership stake. While a loan places the responsibility for repayment primarily upon the borrower, investing in a venture requires a higher level of involvement, more due diligence, more personal commitment, and perhaps greater risk. An investor has an expectation of higher potential returns than a lender. To invest well with those with limited access to capital, whether in a welfare mom’s dream of a catering business or in a well project with peasant villagers, good investment requires a sound business plan, reasoned risk/reward ratio, adequate controls and accountability. The investor has a stake in the sustainability and profitability of the venture.

3. Lending is better than giving — While giving may seem like the kind and Christian thing to do, it often ends up undermining the very relationship a helper is attempting to build. Any one who has served among the poor for any length of time will recognize the following progression:
* give once and you elicit appreciation;
* give twice and you create anticipation;
* give three times and you create expectation;
* give four times and it becomes entitlement;
* give five times and you establish dependency.

Lending, on the other hand, establishes a mutually beneficial relationship characterized by responsibility, accountability, and respect. It is legitimate exchange that requires the lender to be responsible for assessing the risk while leaving the dignity of the borrower intact. Lending, done well, builds mutual trust and respect.

4. Exchange is better than giving — One-way charity erodes human dignity. It subtly implies that the recipient has nothing of value the giver desires in return. No one wants to be pitied as a charity case. Thus, a thrift store affords more dignity than a free clothes closet, and a food coop more than a free food pantry. To the extent the poor are enabled to participate in (preferable have ownership in) the systems intended to serve them, to that extent their self-worth is enhanced. The fair exchange of labor for goods and services is an honorable and responsible practice (though admittedly not as easy as give-away programs).

5. Never do for others what they can do for themselves — The goal of helping is empowerment. Personal responsibility is essential for social, emotional and spiritual well being. To do for others what they have the capacity to do for themselves is to dis-empower them. Welfare, as many failed government programs have demonstrated, promotes dependency and a sense of entitlement. The outcome is no different when religious or charitable organizations provide it. The struggle for self-sufficiency is, like the butterfly struggling to emerge from its cocoon, an essential strength-building process that should not be short-circuited by “compassionate” intervention. The effective helper can be a cheerleader, an encourager, a coach, a connector, but never a caretaker who assumes responsibility that the “helpee” is capable of shouldering.

6. Sustainability is a litmus test — When our service project is over and we return home, are those we have served empowered to sustain what we have started? If these initiatives require our on-going funding, staffing, and volunteer participation to keep them going, they are more likely dependency-producing rather than empowering. Thus, building a home or digging a well for people who do not have the training and/or resources to maintain these assets does not empower them. It may feel very good for the moment and relieve an immediate need but it does not develop capacity. The defining question is: how can we serve so as to enable the poor to become self-sustaining?

7. Consider unintended consequences — Every change has consequences. Church growth may cause traffic congestion; screw-top wine bottles puts cork producers out of work; successful sheep breeding may lead to overgrazing. While we cannot foresee all the potential consequences of our service, we should at least make some attempt to predict their impact. Are we luring indigenous ministers away from their pastoral duties to become our tour-guides and schedule coordinators for our mission trips? Are we diminishing the entrepreneurial spirit in a culture by offering our free services, gifts and grants? Are we supporting irresponsible lifestyles by indiscriminate giving from our clothes closets and food pantries? Before we embark on a mission venture we should conduct an “impact study” to consider how our good deeds might have consequences we never intended. As Hippocrates admonished: above all do no harm

8. Listen to what is not being said — A good physician learns to listen to what his patient is not saying. Perhaps out of embarrassment or fear, a patient may not disclose important data needed to correctly treat a condition. The doctor must look for clues, piece together fragments of information, use his diagnostic tools and intuition to arrive at an accurate diagnosis. The poor we serve may be quite reluctant to reveal "the whole story” to would-be helpers for a host of reasons — fear of judgment, fear of losing support, not wanting to appear unappreciative, intimidation. It would be very difficult, for instance, for a pastor in a poor Guatemalan village to tell a supporting church in the States that it would be a far better use of their money to help him create jobs for the men in his village than to spend it on plane fare to send 30 unskilled volunteers to come and do construction work for them. Likewise, a single mother trying to clothe her children may be hesitant to tell the clothes closet volunteers that their hours of operation make it difficult for working parents to shop there. Like good physicians, effective helpers must learn to observe, ask questions, use their intuition, and hear what is not being said.

AN OATH FOR HELPERS
The effectiveness of our efforts to empower the poor could be significantly enhanced if, prior to launch, would-be helpers would take the following pledge:

1. I will never do for others what they have (or could have) the capacity to do for themselves.
2. I will limit my one-way giving to emergency situations and seek always to find ways and means for legitimate exchange.
3. I will seek ways empower the poor through hiring, lending and investing and use grants sparingly as incentives that reinforce achievements.
4. I will put the interests of the poor above my own (or organizational) self-interest even when it may be costly.
5. I will take time to listen and carefully assess both expressed and unspoken needs so that my actions will ultimately strengthen rather than weaken the hand of those I would serve.
6. Above all, to the best of my ability, I will do no harm.

i need sometimes


i need sometimes, originally uploaded by hallywood.

Saw this at the Big Kitchen.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Prayer walk, from downtown to GH