November 2019: Comfort in Our Troubles

Praise be to God, the God of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Last year, the Forum for Development, Culture, and Dialogue (FDCD) in Lebanon began implementing a winterization project in Syria in partnership with Global Ministries. FDCD received many urgent requests for assistance in the areas of Aleppo, Hama, and rural Damascus as Syrians were preparing for a harsh winter. While food supplies are always an enormous need, families were very concerned about the cold winter ahead and the health of the household, children specifically. This is due to the fact that there are few organizations focused on helping Syrians prepare for winter. We planned to distribute 500 sets of children’s clothes, 400 blankets, and 200 heaters, assisting over 1000 families as colder months approached. FDCD also provided assistance to volunteers helping in distributions, extending the impact of the project.

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October 2019: Steps Toward Peace

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They will beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. Isaiah 2:4b

In early 2017, over 10,000 former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrilla fighters disarmed and demobilized as a result of the December 2016 peace accord. Thus began a long and challenging reentry process for many of them who had been part of the rebel army for most of their lives.

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September 2019: Holistic Health Care

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Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay. Matthew 10:8

The road to the village of Motara in East Timor is a virtual mud-bog during the rainy season. When we pull up at 9:00 AM for a mobile clinic dozens of patients have already gathered. Moms and young children make up the majority but there are elderly men and women too. Two Clinic Immanuel staff and a government doctor unload several boxes of medical supplies and start consulting. By the time the clinic is over more than 60 patients will have had the opportunity for health care they otherwise wouldn’t have had. This clinic is a collaborative effort between Clinic Immanuel and the Timorese Ministry of Health.

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August 2019: Ministry in Zambia

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One who is taught the word must share all good things with the one who teaches. Galatians 6:6

It is such a joy to be serving in Zambia and teaching for the United Church of Zambia (UCZ) University. I am challenged by some chronic problems - no reliable Wi-Fi for the classrooms, a needy library, one old copier that is not dependable, and a decaying water supply system - but we are succeeding. I arrived last winter to teach church history but have been drafted to teach African church history, research skills, theology, and missiology. My wife came a few months later to support the university library and has found other challenges in the computer lab and in the stacks.

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July 2019: Unless

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The earth is God’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him. Psalm 24:1

The Institute of Intercultural Studies and Research, a long-time Global Ministries partner in Chiapas, Mexico, works with people in villages and communities, learning together how the death of the forests means more than the loss of trees. Every breath that we have ever breathed has depended on the oxygen processed by billions of leaves around the world. The food we eat comes from the soil enriched by those same leaves, naturally composted over hundreds of years. The forest habitat is home to creatures and to many humans who depend daily on the medicines, food, and fuel produced by trees.

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June 2019: Bondage

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Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy. Proverbs 31:9

“They aren’t dying because they are sick. They are dying because they’re being mistreated.” Yohana spoke these words to a gathering of religious leaders, rights activists, and journalists at a memorial service and press conference at the office of the Evangelical Christian Church of Timor in Indonesia. Yohana didn’t say much - she speaks a Timorese language, not Indonesian - but her tears spoke volumes. A year earlier, Yohana’s 21-year-old daughter, Adelina, died in Malaysia. Adelina had been a domestic worker whose employers made her sleep on a veranda with their vicious dog. Neighbors eventually reported the case. Finding Adelina’s arms and legs covered by infected wounds, the police rushed her to a hospital where she died within a few days.

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May 2019: Welcoming the Stranger and Loving the Neighbor

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I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.
Matthew 25:35

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April 2019: “U Sabi Dance O”

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You have turned my mourning into dancing; you have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, so that my soul may praise you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever. Psalm 30:11-12

Sierra Leonean music makes up the majority of what I listen to. Most mornings, if I sleep through the Islamic Azan at 5:00 am, the unique layering of percussion and rhythms of Salone music awaken me shortly after. Regardless of the genre, hearing music in the streets causes everyone to dance. Wherever there is music in Sierra Leone, dance surely accompanies it. Music and dance together play a significant role in how people interact, celebrate, mourn, tell stories, and worship. 

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March 2019: To Embrace and Love

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Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him. Matthew 4:11

As we prepare for Easter, we cannot celebrate life in Jesus without acknowledging the pain and suffering around us. We cannot be prostrate at the foot of the cross without looking up to see the nails that tore through our Savior’s flesh. How then can we worship God freely and truly when vicious human desire tears through humanity as a whole?

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February 2019: Shared Encounters

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And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. Hebrews 13:16

Displaced from their ancestral homes because of mining, militarization, and other forms of developmental aggression, the Lumads (indigenous people of the Philippines) have sought temporary sanctuary among hospitable communities. Global Ministries partner, Union Theological Seminary (UTS) has been privileged to host the Lumads. The Lumads stayed for a month at the UTS campus, which felt like home because of its beautiful natural surroundings. Through UTS’ hospitality, the Lumad children were able to continue their education through the traveling Bakwit (evacuees) School, which provides schooling to the many Lumads who evacuated.

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