March 4, 2010

News from the front line of love (A Haiti Update)

Bonswa from Saint Marc, Haiti!

Supply Distribution
We have been busy here in St Marc! Today refugees from Port Au Prince that were in need came to the Supply and Food Distribution at the YWAM base. Over 800 people were served (canned, bagged and boxed) food items, baby supplies (diapers, wipes, toys, etc), kitchen supplies (utensils, plates, pots and pans), clothes, shoes and other various items. It was a bit chaotic, each person was allowed to fill two shopping bags (about the size of a grocery store shopping bag) with whatever they could.

Food Distribution
Since there are about 25,000 refugees in St. Marc, YWAM is organizing food distribution through the local churches. It is awesome to see the locals rising up and taking care of their own! There is a long history of apathy and dependency on foreign aid and we believe the local church holds a huge part in the ending of this mentality. Over 60 pastors came to collect food (they do this on a weekly or bi weekly basis). We gave out a shipping container (24 tons!) of canned food, sacks of rice and beans and noodles and just as they handed out the last bag of rice, World Food Program showed up with another 24 tons! (A lot of organizations come to YWAM to help organize their aid because YWAM has been here for 23 years and has the relationships with the people). God truly provides and today was a huge display of that provision!

Port Au Prince
3 members of our team are in Port Au Prince and have been for the past few days. They have been sending us daily updates and the photos and stories are devastating but they have seen glimpses of hope as well. It is going to take a long time to rebuild this nation, but there have been very positive signs of Haitians making a stand for God.

Medical Clinic

YWAM St Marc has been trying to purchase a local abandoned clinic to start their own clinic but had not been able to until right after the earthquake (the 4 story hospital in St Marc collapsed) and Port Au Prince sent their non-urgent care patients to YWAM. They quickly scrubbed out the abandoned clinic down the street that had formerly been used for euthanasia and abortions and are now, over 40 days after the earthquake, treating patients on a daily basis and are housing several patients. Today, a boy who has been in bed and said to be paralyzed with TB, was able to sit up and get into a wheelchair and go outdoors for the first time in 40 days!


Our main effort has been creating a photographic survey for the YWAM International Development Team. All week we have been jumping in trucks and buses and motorcycles cruising all over Haiti crafting what will be the proposal for inviting YWAM & Non-YWAM International Leaders to invest time, personnel, ethics, intellect, and resources into long-term community development in Haiti. We are over 2,000 pictures into what we pray will be a provocation to the masses to see hope restored for a NEW Haiti. Staying up until the wee hours of the night were doing our very best to get the job done.

We are exhausted but are seeing amazing things happen.
for more check out -

February 21, 2010

January 31, 2010

Let The Riot Begin

Last night as I sat upon the shoulders of a crazed soccer fan taking pictures in the streets of Cairo I wondered to myself what it would take to get Americans as excited about ANYTHING as this whole nation was about a game. Egypt beat Ghana (1-0) to take the African Cup of Nations. The streets filled up minutes after and a jubilant riot of sorts erupted till they were interrupted by the prayer call at dawn.

Being tossed among the crowed I thought of the celebration that will ensue when the whole world is transformed by love and the Lamb returns. If it's anything like this, then surely I want to be a part of it. In fact I want it to come now in all it's jubilant splendor.

As the night and celebration pushed on, I then back in our dreary hotel room shutting my eyes and drifting to sleep, explosions filled the air. After each one the loudest cheers filled the air. I smiled and imagined a day to come when people will shout for more than a game. When love itself will rear such an outcry of support, such a shout that the whole earth will tremble. When the only violence possessing the hearts of men will be a "violence of love".

So what are we waiting for. LET THE RIOT BEGIN.

January 22, 2010

To Demonize & Segregate (Haiti We Love You)

Thank you Ekklesia Project for mustering a response so quickly in the wake of ignorant speech. I wasn't in any way surprised to hear of the cutting remarks of Pat Robertson in the aftermath of the Haiti Earthquake, only deeply sorrowed that once again someone of his stature would steep so low to demonize the poor. I've always been amazed at the ability of the powerful to create distance between themselves and the marginalized. It's like clockwork. The last few days I have been organizing my thoughts with hopes to write a response, but our dear brothers & sisters at Ekklesia Project offered up a far more eloquent one than I. So I share it hear and simply offer my support...

Written by. Spencer Dew (for the whole essay go here -

"In what has now become a much-circulated clip, tele-evangelist Pat Robertson makes sense of the catastrophic Haitian earthquake as the latest in a string of curses delivered by God to Haiti’s people. Robertson’s interpretation of this catastrophe, whether we find it repellent or compelling, offers an excellent example of one of the ways religion functions: Robertson reiterates a reassuring framework of meaning in the face of experiences which call such frameworks into question.

The earthquake, rather than evidence of the random and senseless nature of human existence, provides for Robertson evidence of God’s existence and ongoing, partisan involvement in human history. Robertson’s theology provides comfort, too, in its categorisation of the victims of this tragedy as deserving of their fate, insulating Robertson from the agony of identifying too closely with these wounded, mourning, homeless, and hungry fellow humans.

Robertson may be moved by this suffering – his remarks were delivered as the Christian Broadcasting Network raised money for earthquake relief – but his religious anthropology renders this suffering, in his words, “unimaginable,” a stark contrast to anthropologies that urge empathetic relations.

For Robertson, the Haitian people are markedly 'other', a tone that carries through his version of the nation’s history: “They were under the heels of the French,” he says, “You know, Napoleon III, or whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, we will serve you if you’ll get us free from the French. True story. And so the devil said, OK, it’s a deal. And they kicked the French out. You know, the Haitians revolted and got themselves free. But ever since, they have been cursed by one thing after the other.”

This story is, of course, far from true. Robertson offers here a typical demonisation of the Voodoo religion and a Christian distortion of the legend of the 1791 Bois Caiman ritual. Yet Robertson, one imagines, finds animal sacrifice and blood vows repellent, and he has no reason to be accepting of any religion other than his own, ruling them all false and therefore damnable.

In the clearly defined narrative Robertson insists upon, the followers of God can expect rewards while to the followers of the devil, come destruction, blood, and wailing. The troubling aspect of Robertson’s remarks, however, is not the myths he offers to make sense of the world, but what he leaves out of his thumbnail history of Haiti: Unmentioned in his summary is the word “slavery.”

The “true story” that Robertson occludes is that Haiti, the first country to be founded by former African slaves, owes its origin to armed uprising. What began as raids on plantations became full scale revolutionary war, with people who had been regarded as chattels claiming their liberty via the blood of their former 'masters.'

From Nat Turner to Fred Hampton, the armed, independent black person has remained a nightmare image to those who benefit from white privilege in America, an image, indeed, not unlike Cotton Mather’s description of Satan incarnate in New England, that “Black Man” with the power to destroy the social order.

Haitian Independence was an event interpreted by much of the white, slave-owning world of the time as catastrophic. That 'they' would dare – and be able – to seize power called into question pre-existing systems of meaning-making as surely as any earthquake.

The image of black slaves shedding their chains and taking up arms contributes far more than any hobgoblins of the evangelical imagination to the historical 'curses' that have kept Haiti poor and troubled. The history of American relations with Haiti has been indelibly tainted by America’s true devil – the lingering effects of our own schizophrenic founding as a nation insistent on liberty, yet practicing slavery.

Just as racist terror helped shape the stereotype of Voodoo as devil worship, so too, racist attitudes have dominated the history of American relations with Haiti, from the fearful to the patronising, from clandestine political machinations to occupation by military force. It is to be hoped that the current attention on Haiti (for those of us who reject dismissive metaphysical explanations such as Robertson’s) will prompt Americans to examine the racism embedded not just in foreign and domestic political history but, indeed, in our own minds.

Without honest confrontation of the legacies of our past as a slave society, some 'they' will always be demonized and some 'devil' will always be imagined as a mask for our earthly hatreds and fears."

January 19, 2010

Nigeria - An Update

Blessings Friends & Family from Alexandria, Egypt. We pray you are having a beautiful beginning to your New Year. We wanted to start by saying thank you so much for your prayers and the outcry of support for our last minute effort to Nigeria. Together we raised a little over $1,000 in a week! People did bake sales, tithed work checks, and gave as God led them and we are so incredibly thankful. Time and time again we are amazed at how God uses His body to support one another!! Thank you for being apart of that and lending your support on behalf of the marginalized in Nigeria.

So we have an update and it's a little sad with a lot of optimism and excitement mixed in. It appears that indeed our visa & financial situation will hold us back from getting into Nigeria this Friday. It was just to much to fast to try and apply for visas as foreign nationals in a not so efficient foreign system. The Nigerian Embassy in Cairo has been giving a lot of mixed information and it appears that visas wont come together in time. It would also financially basically flatten us at the moment (even with what was raised) because of flight price jumps. So with a little sadness we have to report that Nigeria will have to wait for PhotogenX.

That being said, we are really excited. It was after all a very quick and hectic undertaking to try and go so speedily for such a short period of time. Yet during the last week of trying to make it happen we have been able to speak with our leadership and we all feel that Nigeria and the injustice perpetuated there, along with the incredible response our Y family is already undertaking needs to be a new front line for us this coming year. So it's with excitement that we return to Kona with some direction. In some ways this will allow us as a community to slow down, research, network and then go with confidence, purpose, and more intentionality. So we are indeed planing on heading to Nigeria in 2010 (Lord willing).

If you gave towards our effort to Nigeria, please know that we will put aside any funds raised specifically for Nigeria to go towards that specific effort next year. If you would like to be reimbursed or have the money used for another purpose we are more than happy to do so! Simply communicate that with us. You are a blessing...

This past week in the scramble we have researched Nigeria like never before. Please take some time to pray for our brothers and sisters there and to make yourself aware of the issues the face. The greed and international exploitation countered by violence and bloody mayhem is a totally overwhelming. Pray for the Church in Nigeria, specifically in Port Harcourt where the brunt of the violence is and where the Y community is stationed. Pray it can be a haven of peace. Pray for our families effort to rehabilitate so many hurting young adults and that our Father will break the violence from their hearts. Pray that more productive and creative ways of ending oppression can be birthed and that the Church would rise up and lead these efforts. Let us all lay a prayer foundation as we begin to put plans together for next year.

Thank you for your love and voice! We will be in touch in February when we are back at home base. There will be much to share and pray into together as we move into 2010 with all the Lord is planing to do with PhotogenX this year.

Grace & PEACE,
Steve & Diane Schallert

January 9, 2010

Peace & Rehabilitation {Nigeria}

Salaam Aleichum from Alexandria, Egypt. After a long flight from New York, a couple days in Cairo, and a short drive up to the coast we have reconvened safely with the track community in Alexandria. Egypt is a hazy desert or mixed cultures, familiar smells, and crazy drivers. It kind of feels like we are back in our comfort (i.e. discomfort) zone. The Muslim call to prayer rings through the streets five times a day bringing back fond memories of Afghanistan and ushering in a reverence for God in us all. The track community is doing well and we are excited for a month of sharing in fellowship, helping to facilitate things for the team here as well as for the rest of their time throughout the middle east. We feel it is so important to transition well before we head back to Kona to join the leadership there in February. Again we are so thankful to you all for your support & prayers these past months. We need them now more than ever!

So an amazing opportunity has approached us the last couple days which we desire to share with you. When we arrived in Egypt our friend Geeta who works all across the world with our "Family" invited the two of us to join her for a week long survey trip to Nigeria (January 22nd - 29th). Let us give a little history before we go on -

Nigeria is the most populated country in all of Africa with nearly 150 Million people. It is also one of the wealthiest countries in the world in terms of natural resources, primarily in oil, and yet over 70% of the population lives well bellow the poverty line. For decades multinational corporations have done crooked business with the government stealing land from the people and exploiting these natural resources. It seems ridiculous that a country so naturally rich would be a land of such dire poverty, and so the people took up arms. Over the last decade dozens of militias (mostly young men ages 16 -30) have decided to fight for their rights to their land, resorting to violence out of a state of poverty & envy. Our "Family" has had a presence in Nigeria since 2001, often involved in the mix of this violence and attempting to create outlets for education of the youth. Here is where things get amazing. Last year through a long effort of dialog between NGO's, "freedom fighters", and the government over 200 members of various militias decided to lay their arms down and live in rehabilitation camps (remember most of these "freedom fighters" are only in their late teens and early twenties). After the camp was established the government approached our "Family" and asked if they would be willing to be involved in the rehabilitation work of ex-fighters seeing a deep need for spiritual renewal as much as psychological. Our "Family" agreed and has since been involved in the process. Over the last year of the 200 ex-fighters over half have become believers and starting last month 60 of these once vengeance seeking militia kids, now young recovering believers, are partaking in one of our Discipleship Training Programs in Nigeria! How amazing is that!!! Well the peace & reconciliation & rehabilitation effort continues on as sure as the bullets continue to fly and it's at this point that Geeta comes along and asks us if we would like to come with her to this camp to document the work and see how PhotogenX can get involved in the future.

As soon as Geeta mentioned the trip to us we felt a stirring in our hearts. As we discussed it with our leaders, they too were excited about the possibilities and thought the timing was perfect, as this is a transitioning period for the whole team. They are encouraging us to go. We have entered into prayer and ask for you to pray for us as well. With us being in Egypt it is only a five hour flight to Lagos, Nigeria and this short trip could open a ton of doors for PhotogenX (not to mention our wider "Family" in Kona) to come along a support an amazing effort that God has birthed. There is so much need for new creative and non-violent efforts for justice in Nigeria. There is so much need for conversations and the stories of these kids to be told. There is so much injustice in the dark that needs to be brought into the light.We believe our Father is moving...


There are a couple major needs we have for this trip to Nigeria to happen - Prayer & Money (sound familiar). We need a lot of prayer as this is only two weeks away. We are trying to apply for visas within a foreign country working with the Nigerian Embassy in Cairo. Pray for favor! We need a stamped entry visa in about a week! We also need to get some special vaccinations and figure out flight details. So much prayer is needed!

We also need to raise about $2000 total ($1500 for tickets, $300 for visas, $200 for food & housing) to cover the cost of the trip as we don't have the income to cover everything. Every bit will help. If you or your community feel led to make a special one time contribution towards this effort, you can do so by donating at the PAYPAL link below. All the finances will go directly towards this effort. If the doors close because of visa rejection, we would be happy to return dontations given or you may specify if you would like the money to be used toward future work with PhotogenX.

Thank you for always walking with us. Pray for us this week as we wrestle through this process. Pray God's favor would be upon us and that all the governing officials that have to check "yes" boxes will put their pens to the papers and do so quickly. Pray also for safety and wisdom as Nigeria isn't always the safest place to be. We love you and hope that in February when we head back to Kona we can have a multitude of amazing stories to share with you all!!!

We would love to hear from you.

Blessings from Egypt,
Steve & Diane Schallert

December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas!