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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January 2019: Migrant Journey

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Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me. Matthew 25:40

Traveling as individuals, migrants are vulnerable and exposed to kidnappings, extortion, rape, murder, and disappearances. Now they embark on the road in groups to protect themselves and each other.

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December 2018: New Hope

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He will judge between the nations
    and will settle disputes for many peoples.
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 2:4

Advent is a time to turn toward Bethlehem and behold the occupants for whose sake the savior was born, those who still live under occupation, denied their freedom, dignity and independence. Advent calls all who espouse justice and peace to allow the people of Bethlehem to rejoice at Christmas by working for the restoration of their dignity, freedom and independence.

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November 2018: Losing My Voice

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Before moving to a Haiti, I studied a petit (little) bit of Kreyol before I arrived in country, enough to think I was ready to chat with the Nationals here. Umm… non. By the time it takes for me to put together a sentence, the moment has already passed.

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October 2018: What About the Sabbath?

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Then Jesus spoke to the people: “What kind of action suits the Sabbath best? Doing good or doing evil? Helping people or leaving them helpless?” Mark 3: 4

Our faith teaches us love and joyful service. Just as Jesus responded with love and kindness through healing, so shall we respond in kindness and faith to needs as they present themselves. Christ’s commitment to us is everlasting and without rules, boundaries, or timelines. While rest and reflection on the Sabbath are important for our spiritual journey, so, too, is living our faith as we serve others in our daily lives.

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September 2018: It’s not in Vain

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Therefore my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of God,
because you know that in God your labor is not in vain.”  1 Corinthians 15:58

Clinic Immanuel in Loapalos, East Timor, hosted a team of dentists from The Gap Uniting Church in Brisbane, Australia. It was their second visit to the clinic. During four, ten-hour days, they occupied two rooms in the clinic pulling teeth and filling cavities on people who rarely have had oral healthcare of any kind. 

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