May 2018: Ministry of Hope and Healing

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May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had. Romans 15:5

War claims many victims in many ways, and long after the peace agreements are signed. A civil war, fought by Sri Lanka’s Tamil people during the late 20th century and settled in the 21st, began in the hope of establishing an independent Tamil state on the island of Ceylon/Sri Lanka. When the fighting stopped, anger did not.

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April 2018: Planting Trees and Growing Faith

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Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1

On Saturday, we planted trees.

We met at the Institute for Intercultural Study and Research (INESIN), one of Global Ministries’ partners in San Cristobal, at 7:30 a.m. We loaded around 200 trees and ourselves into the back of a pickup truck and drove 30 minutes on a highway and 30 minutes more on patchy dirt and gravel roads to arrive at the farm of a local pastor. Perched on the side of a mountain, we looked out over the plains to another mountain range as it was just starting to be covered by the ever-present daytime clouds.

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March 2018: Witnessing Healing, Growth, and New Life

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I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. John 10:10b

Joy comes in participating and witnessing healing, growth and new life. This is the core of the message of Jesus that is fully revealed during the Season of Lent and Easter. 

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February 2018: Come, We’ve Work to Do

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So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

Happy New Year! Lunar New Year’s Day, also known as Korean New Year or Seollal, marks the first day of the Korean lunar calendar. This year, the year of the dog, the holiday will be celebrated in mid-February. Businesses and offices are closed, and subway trains and streets are less crowded. While many Koreans travel to visit family and friends, members of the Filipino community gather to celebrate the Anniversary of KASAMMAKO (The Unity of Filipino Migrant Workers Association in Korea).

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January 2018: Strain and Stress, Day by Day

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“When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.”
Psalm 94:19

Yesterday morning, after we told an acquaintance here that we had left the United States to live and work in Lebanon, he told us bluntly, “You made a big mistake. Are there no churches in America that you came here? This country will not straighten out. Not for a long time.” Later, we told another couple the exact same thing. Their reaction was the opposite. “What? You moved to Beirut? This is wonderful news! You have put our minds at ease.”

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December 2017: Anticipation

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When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways.  1 Corinthians 13:11

“Wait with anticipation” is the age-old theme of Advent. As a child I remember waiting with anticipation for Christmas morning when my brother, sister, and I would fly downstairs to piles of bright gifts beneath a spruce covered in glitter and glass ornaments. Sunday School had taught me there was a connection between God’s gift of love in the birth of Jesus and our giving gifts to one another. But in a youngster’s imagination, that meaning became murky—there was always a disconnect between the message of a baby born in a stinky manger (surely it stank as any livestock owner knows) and the glitter of toys.

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November 2017: Safe Roads for All

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We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 2 Corinthians 4:8-9

I traveled from San Salvador, the capital of El Salvador, to Managua, Nicaragua by bus. As we arrived at the Salvadoran side of the border with Honduras, a police officer entered the bus to make a check. I was focused on writing in my diary and did not pay attention. I think that made him suspicious and I was asked to dismount the bus for a check. I got off the bus, picked up my suitcase, and went to an office where three policemen started interrogating me about who I was and what I do. I told them that I am a missionary and pastor. Checking my luggage, they found my prayer cards that corroborated what I was saying. After a while, I was released and I left very angry about their rude treatment.

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October 2017: Congo Communion

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And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me." In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you." Luke 22:19-20

Churches of the Community of Disciples of Christ in the Congo (CDCC) share in communion on the first day of every week. For Congolese Disciples, the fellowship and breaking of bread has cultural and spiritual significance. It is foremost an expression of unity in the faith, recalling a shared experience of baptism. Communion also complements the cultural practice of sharing a meal in community, where each person is offered a fair portion.

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September 2017: Hope and Transformation

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Be strong and take heart,
    all you who hope in God.
Psalm 31:24

Many tourists share their stories of unparalleled relaxation and breathtakingly beautiful accommodations while visiting the motherland. To them, Cape Town is paradise. Yet scores of South Africans struggle daily from the unaddressed injustices that flow from apartheid. Underneath the city’s glamorous surface are the often-unreported realities of Cape Town citizens who live in unspeakably horrible conditions.

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August 2017: Shifting Our Anchorage

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The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls.
When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it. Matthew 13:44-45

Attending the UCC General Synod and DOC General Assembly this year opened my eyes to the similarities that exist in mission worldwide. The rallying call from pulpits and resolution after resolution aims at the heart of God’s Kingdom. The writer of Matthew’s gospel gives us a definition of the Kingdom of God that resounds in what we do every day. We - like the farmer, the merchant, the fisherman - search daily for things that provide us with a living, a life. And when we find what produces the abundance of life, we shift anchorage, to use a Pacific/Oceania terminology.

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