November 1, 2008

Non-Violence & The Kingdom of Heaven

Ok so I want to try something. I've been thinking about it for a little while now and came to the conclusion that in all reality nothing harmful can really come from it other than people having a better understand, at the vary least, of my particular beliefs. So here is where we start.

Most of you probably will never have heard of William Lloyd Garrison or the Society for the Establishment of Peace among Men, which existed in 1838 in the United States. He falls among the countless other marginalized voices throughout Christendom's history that have stood for truth with such blatant honesty that you will likely encounter their names upon the "heretic" list. But Garrison was a fiery abolitionist (the champion of emancipation among his more favorable titles) who came to the conclusion after wrestling with the most dangerous of scripture (i.e. The Sermon on the Mount) that the establishment of Christ's Kingdom rested on the open profession of the doctrine of nonresistance to evil by violence (now more well known as "nonviolence"). In 1838 Garrison pend an incredible declaration, from Boston, that was circulated and signed by a remarkable number of believers from various backgrounds including many of the members of the Society for the Establishment of Peace among Men. Immediately after which a Society for Nonresistance was founded, and a journal called the Non-Resistant began spreading. This declaration of Garrison's gave so powerful and eloquent an expression of a confession of faith of such importance to men, that one would have thought it must have produced a strong impression on people, and have become known throughout the world and the subject of discussion on every side. But nothing of the kind occurred. Not only was it unknown in Europe, even the Americans, who at the time held such a high opinion of Garrison, hardly knew of the declaration.

So this is my hope; to share in this declaration with you all. My desire is to spread this declaration of nonresistance as far as print & electronic media can and to gather signatures from as many as would adhere to such a confession. I will post it here and elsewhere, send e-mails and newsletters, and ask those of you who adhere your names to it to spread it as well. Simply add a comment wherever you find it (with your name) or return an e-mail with your wishes to be added to the list of signatures. After adequate time has been given for circulation I will print the declaration and combine our names with the names of believers who signed it in the 1830's. I will then send it to every armed-forces branch of the government as well as send letters to established congregations in support war and violence, not out of spite, but in declaration of our beliefs. Hurray how exciting! 

So many of you are already professing believers in nonviolence and many others of you are not. Still many more of you, I'm sure, have never concerned yourself with war and violence and the establishment of heaven on earth. Yet to all I say keep an open mind. If anything let this declaration of my beliefs be a conversation starter, and if you haven't studied nonviolence perhaps read up on it. Martin Luther King Jr, Mahatma Gandhi, Desmond Tutu, or anything by Leo Tolstoy are great places to start. But if you're really feeling dangerous check out Matt. 5-7!

A Declaration of Non-Violence 2008
(first introduced by W.L. Garrison in 1838)

"We the undersigned, regard it as due to ourselves, to the cause which we love, to the country in which we live, to publish a declaration expressive of the purposes we aim to accomplish and the measures we shall adopt to carry forward the work of peaceful universal reformation.

"We do not acknowledge allegiance to any human government. We recognize but one King and Lawgiver, one Judge and Ruler of mankind. Our country is the world, our countrymen are all mankind. We love the land of our nativity only as we love all other lands. The interests and rights of American citizens are not dearer to us than those of the whole human race. Hence we can allow no appeal to patriotism to revenge any national insult or injury...

"We conceive that a nation has no right to defend itself against foreign enemies or to punish its invaders, and no individual possesses that right in his own case, and the unit cannot be of greater importance than the aggregate. If soldiers thronging from abroad with intent to commit rapine and destroy life may not be resisted by the people or the magistracy, then ought no resistance to be offered to domestic troublers of the public peace or of private security.

"The dogma that all the governments of the world are approvingly ordained of God, and that the powers that be in the United States, in Russia, in Turkey, are in accordance with his will, is no less absurd than impious. It makes the impartial Author of our existence unequal and tyrannical. It cannot be affirmed that the powers that be in any nation are actuated by the spirit or guided by the example of Christ in the treatment of enemies; therefore they cannot be agreeable to the will of God, and therefore their overthrow by a spiritual regeneration of their subjects is inevitable.

"We regard as unchristian and unlawful not only all wars, whether offensive or defensive, but all preparations for war; every naval ship, every arsenal, every fortification, we regard as unchristian and unlawful; the existence of any kind of standing army, all military chieftains, all monuments commemorative of victory over a fallen foe, all trophies won in battle, all celebrations in honor of military exploits, all appropriations for defense by arms; we regard as unchristian and unlawful every edict of government requiring of its subjects military service.

"Hence we deem it unlawful to bear arms, and we cannot hold any office which imposes on its incumbent the obligation to compel men to do right on pain of imprisonment or death. We therefore voluntarily exclude ourselves from every legislative and judicial body, and repudiate all human politics, worldly honors, and stations of authority. If we cannot occupy a seat in the legislature or on the bench, neither can we elect others to act as our substitutes in any such capacity. It follows that we cannot sue any man at law to force him to return anything he may have wrongly taken from us; if he has seized our coat, we shall surrender him our cloak also rather than subject him to punishment.

"We believe that the penal code of the old covenant--an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth--has been abrogated by Jesus Christ, and that under the new covenant the forgiveness instead of the punishment of enemies has been enjoined on all his disciples in all cases whatsoever. To extort money from enemies, cast them into prison, exile or execute them, is obviously not to forgive but to take retribution.

"The history of mankind is crowded with evidences proving that physical coercion is not adapted to moral regeneration, and that the sinful dispositions of men can be subdued only by love; that evil can be exterminated only by good; that it is not safe to rely upon the strength of an arm to preserve us from harm; that there is great security in being gentle, long- suffering, and abundant in mercy; that it is only the meek who shall inherit the earth; for those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword.

"Hence as a measure of sound policy--of safety to property, life, and liberty--of public quietude and private enjoyment--as well as on the ground of allegiance to Him who is King of kings and Lord of lords, we cordially adopt the non-resistance principle, being confident that it provides for all possible consequences, is armed with omnipotent power, and must ultimately triumph over every assailing force.

"We advocate no Jacobinical doctrines (i.e. Just War Theory). The spirit of Jacobinism is the spirit of retaliation, violence, and murder. It neither fears God nor regards man. We would be filled with the spirit of Christ. If we abide evil by our fundamental principle of not opposing evil by evil we cannot participate in sedition, treason, or violence. We shall submit to every ordinance and every requirement of government, except such as are contrary to the commands of the Gospel, and in no case resist the operation of law, except by meekly submitting to the penalty of disobedience.

"But while we shall adhere to the doctrine of non-resistance and passive submission to enemies, we purpose, in a moral and spiritual sense, to assail iniquity in high places and in low places, to apply our principles to all existing evil, political, legal, and ecclesiastical institutions, and to hasten the time when the kingdoms of this world will have become the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ. It appears to us a self-evident truth that whatever the Gospel is designed to destroy at any period of the world, being contrary to it, ought now to be abandoned. If, then, the time is predicted when swords shall be beaten into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks, and men shall not learn the art of war any more, it follows that all who manufacture, sell, or wield these deadly weapons do thus array themselves against the peaceful dominion of the Son of God on earth.

"Having thus stated our principles, we proceed to specify the measures we propose to adopt in carrying our object into effect.

"We expect to prevail through the Foolishness of Speaking. We shall endeavor to promulgate our views among all persons, to whatever nation, sect, or grade of society they may belong. Hence we shall organize public lectures, circulate tracts and publications, form societies, and petition every governing body. It will be our leading object to devise ways and means for effecting a radical change in the views, feelings, and practices of society respecting the sinfulness of war and the treatment of enemies.

"In entering upon the great work before us, we are not unmindful that in its prosecution we may be called to test our sincerity even as in a fiery ordeal. It may subject us to insult, outrage, suffering, yea, even death itself. We anticipate no small amount of misconception, misrepresentation, and calumny. Tumults may arise against us. The proud and pharisaical, the ambitious and tyrannical, principalities and powers, may combine to crush us. So they treated the Messiah whose example we are humbly striving to imitate. We shall not be afraid of their terror. Our confidence is in the Lord Almighty and not in man. Having withdrawn from human protection, what can sustain us but that faith which overcomes the world? We shall not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try us, but rejoice inasmuch as we are partakers of Christ's sufferings.

"Wherefore we commit the keeping of our souls to God. For every one that forsakes houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands for Christ's sake, shall inherit everlasting life.

"Firmly relying upon the certain and universal triumph of the sentiments contained in this declaration, however formidable may be the opposition arrayed against them, we hereby affix our signatures to it; commending it to the reason and conscience of mankind, and resolving, in the strength of the Lord God, to calmly and meekly abide the issue."

Sign Bellow


September 23, 2008

Thoughts on returning to the "other-world"

I am utterly convinced now that the supposed airplane we disembarked on from Kabul was in actuality a time machine. It's as if we stumbled through some black-hole or dimensional field into another world, one utterly disconnected from the other. From "bible-times" to the Jetsons in a few short flights. From simplicity to chaos and complication. Yet BOTH worlds seem ever broken.

One is simply trying to survive in the most real sense of the word. Undeveloped, uneducated, war-torn & starving to death, the inhabitance are totally aware of the "other-world" and dream of it's beauty and vibrance. They even have portholes that allow them to lust for a life without gunfire, famine, or the lack of opportunity.

The other world however (this world-my old world) is lonely and lost. The inhabitance gouge themselves searching for happiness and belonging. Yet continually find themselves wanting and disconnected. They are uneasy, untrusting, lifeless and tense. They fear their worlds collapse and see its survival, in the most exaggerated sense of the word, as more important than their very own. They are totally unaware of the "other-world" and their "life" styles express this in grandeur.

It is very simple from this observation to render one world the Oppressor and the other the Oppressed. It is simpler still to draw a deep sympathy for said oppressed world. Yet, and I find this strangely peculiar, even simpler to draw a deep sympathy (as an oppressor) and do absolutely nothing to bring forth justice.

But here in lay the radical truth both Oppressor & Oppressed must be set free! The one world can not simply liberate the other. With this mentality we simply produce more violence and globalize the ever looming Empire of Loneliness. Visa versa, the simpler world has not the means to separate its beauty from its lust to breath life and reason into the other. It also has little voice to amplify and no receptive ears await unoccupied from the expansive world they might harken to. So to this I say, with every inch of me, we need a NEW WORLD.

One that will feed the hungry and comfort the lonely hearted. One offering GRACE to the ignorant and MERCY to the hopeless. For just as charity without JUSTICE is incomplete, so justice without FORGIVENESS is incomplete. We need a new salvation - a new Jerusalem. LET THE NEW WORLD COME...and it has..

It is here among us now, just waiting to be realized. In truth, it was for THIS very reason that Christ came; to establish this new world upon the earth herself. This world, HIS WORLD, is NOT for some distant cloud. It is for today that salvation sings, "equality now, liberation now, freedom now, and justice today."

So for those of us who have begun to abandon the old worlds a breath of life from God Himself is pushing us onward. We have new eyes to see, new ears to hear, and new hearts to give away. We are being restored to the intended design, echoing of Eden wherever we go. For us, there is no turning back...only the Kingdom. And as we grow we begin to join in salvation's song, "let all come...oppressor and oppressed...a NEW WORLD awaits."


August 23, 2008

If love were a cancer we would stop seeking a cure & let it consume our whole bodies.

I'm sorry it's been so many weeks since I last wrote, but God has detained me with His constant moving, shaking, changing and directing. Diane & I have some really exciting things to share with everyone, both about our work here in Afghanistan as well as our plans for the coming years.

First, however, (I suppose this should come first in order to leave everyone feeling cheery upon completion of this update) I have been deathly sick this past week. I'm definitely on the road to recovery now, but still very weak and not able to eat much. Last Sunday I was invited to a banquet of some locals and seated as a guest of honor. Their poor family surprised me with an Afghan delicacy that probably cost them a couple weeks wages and I felt so humbled by their generosity that there was NO WAY I could refuse it. Boiled sheep butt fat in oil and spices along with these little meat dumpling thingies and fruit. Needless to say my westernized stomach never forgave me. I woke up that night with the worst pain in my life, vomited for two days straight, lost about 10lbs, got so dehydrated I needed to drink salt water to bring my muscles back under control and praised the Lord for this amazing families gift all the way through. I really am feeling much better today, but prayer for health is really needed. We have two weeks left here in Afghanistan and a slew of photo projects to get done before we go, so I'll need the energy.

One other note of prayer needed for our team is a rise in persecution coming our way. This week alone we've had rocks heaved and pelted over the walls of our courtyard, a threat that the police are going to come raid our guest house because of "rumors" that we are preaching the gospel (which we are, so, thus is life), and I was spat in the face during my conversation class by a radical who couldn't accept the fact that I have tattoos and am still such a nice guy (or really because he called me a sinner and Jesus a rapist and I said we are all sinners and that the rapist loves him very much).

So pray...but also please know that while there is persecution here (as there is anywhere when people genuinely live their faith) the people of Afghanistan are beautiful. The friendships we have made mean more to me than anything. And to watch the sparkle in the eyes of Afghans dreaming about a better world will break your heart. It has mine...

So on to all the euangelion (or good news). These past few weeks a lot of our team members have been working in a village project 4 hours south of Mazar in Shebragon. They have been leading an education workshop teaching teachers basic learning methods. Most of the village communities have little to no education programs and the schools are usually run by adults who themselves hold 5th or 6th grade proficiency in subjects. So what a blessing to provide more opportunity for future development of those communities. Here in Mazar our office work is wrapping up. My conversation class finished this week but has opened so many doors for me to speak plainly about social justice, non-violent resolution to violent oppression, grace, hope, love and even my faith. I can't do justice in words the feeling you get in your chest when a student comes to you after class and wants to speak in private about Jesus. You feel sneaky. You feel like the early church must have felt in many instances. You feel as much of the church today still feels watching the Kingdom practically break out, touch hearts, and be realized.

This coming week we are all scrambling to get out and shoot as much as physically possible capturing whatever we can of this incredible place. We'll be trucking out to a village north of here, as well as finishing up our work at the orphanage. This friday I'm also organizing what I'm calling HAPPY NAN DAY (Nan is Afghan bread by the way). Next friday is the beginning of the influx to Mazar because Ramadan (the Islamic month of prayer and fasting) starts the following week, so the Mosque will be flooded with people. As a sign of LOVE and RECONCILIATION we're going to buy as much bread as our broken Toyota Mini Van can hold and head down to the Mosque to give it all away, blessing and praying for people as much as we can before we either get kicked out or run out of bread. HAPPY NAN DAY - feel free to celebrate NAN DAY with us in your own towns!!!


Now onto the future. So Diane and I have been praying constantly the last couple months about what God has for us next. As some of you know we have planned to continue working with PhotogenX for the next few years, but the Lord has been shaking those plans, as He often does. There has been a lack of peace in our hearts for a while, but the Lamb has been speaking. Well after a lot of prayer, council, and confirmation we have decided to come back to States for a season. We believe this is the right thing for us, our new marriage, and beyond anything the will of God. Here is our main passion for coming to the west:

We have been dreaming together about a "social experiment" we want to start called Project Love 1.0. We have been excited about the idea for some time and believe God has finally said YES. Basically we want to help mobilize Congregations and Communities to socially/radically change their cities. The hope is for Project Love to be 100% practical (i.e. non-theoretical) in actions of Love throughout a community asking NOTHING in return from those the actions are helping. We don't want votes, church membership, or even conversion in return for the love we share (see the life of Jesus for more details). WE JUST WANT TO LOVE PEOPLE BECAUSE PEOPLE NEED IT. We don't want to start and organization, we want to birth the organism by simply living love in community. We don't want Project Love based in any certain city, instead we want it to be global and move from place to place. That’s why we call it "1.0" in hopes that there will be a 2.0, 3.0, 4.0 and on and on...the ideas and actions can range in zealotry from organizing carpooling and free transportation to work/school for single parent homes to mobilizing finances to buy homes for the homeless (or maybe give some of ours away, who knows?)...we also finally want to make it a very ART based project by capturing and documenting LOVE in it's very nature as best we can and then making publications, websites, photo books, short films, and holding art galleries and exhibitions.

SHEEEESH (did everyone take a deep breath?) OK, SO THAT'S OUR HEART.

This is the primary reason we are coming home. We will be moving to MEMPHIS, TN this fall to live in community with my Brother & Sister in Law, with the hopes of helping bring life to that city. We are so excited to come along side other believers and change things. This is what God has been doing in us...We will also spend the next year while we are back in the states building relationships and speaking at different congregations about our work in PhotogenX and mobilizing more solid missions support for venturing out in the future. We are still hoping to be a part of this community and do the 'Round The World Track next year or the year after.

So there is much behind and much ahead. God brought us to an island to get married and to the desert to hear His voice. In two weeks we head to South Africa then back to the States. Through everything we know that God is faithful. He has provided for us time and time again and will continue to. Thank you all for your faith and love for us. For your constant prayers and financial support. Because of you people in Afghanistan who were hungry are being filled as the Kingdom of God invades this land with more force and power than any empire which has done so over the past 3000 years. Joy is here...

See you soon...

August 4, 2008

The Sickness From the Black Lagoon

{My wife and I south of Mazar having an Afghan Picnic}

I work up this past Saturday at 7am with a fever of 103 and convulsing muscles. Excess amounts of vomiting followed leaving me dehydrated in a way I think only Bear Grills [of Man vs. Wild] could possibly imagine. We called an American doctor friend who firmly insisted I drink more salty water than is humanly possible and posture myself before the maker of the universe. I’ve done both things and woke up this morning mutated into some kind of BLACK TONGUED MUTANT. Yes that’s right folks - I’m in Afghanistan and my tongue is black. In related news, I’m joining the X-Men…

{our friend TANK MAN}

I’m not gonna lie, these past couple weeks have been hard. Sure I haven’t eaten solid food in 48 hours and my mouth looks like I could personally solve the world oil crisis, but even emotionally it has just been really taxing. Living in a WAR torn country dose that to you I suppose. Poverty surrounds you. Violence surrounds you and you begin to feel helpless. Yet it’s the vary nature of our new creation that indeed makes helplessness expire and grace evolve. Perhaps we are just crazy enough to believe that what we are doing here is helping change things. I know I am…a little crazy that is.

The past weeks have seen further work in our NGO office as well as time spent in a local orphanage. We’ve all also been working on various projects for local NGO long-termers to help provide them with solid media & photography to raise funds and spread awareness. Diane photographed the local women’s prison {you can check out a bunch of her shots on her blog right now} which is in absolutely ludicrous conditions. Further, once you make the recollection that when a woman goes to prison in Afghanistan her children go with her, those conditions are even more mind numbing. Babies being raised in rubble – children playing in barbed wire. Yes I’m tired…but the Lamb is at work…

{Bread for Life - is a project I have been working on
which serves to support local Afghan believers in
opening bakeries, sustain community and freely 
feed the pour - i.e. Afghans Feeding Afghans}

The relationships I have built with local Afghans are the dearest things to me now. For while I feel at times I am taking more from this country {in photography} than I am giving back, these friendships are honest. On a personal level they have really toiled to close the gap between east & west, rich & pour, and muslim & christian. I have grown weary of the personification within my faith that pushes strictly for conversion. I find more often than not that this mentality negates the need to live out the established Kingdom. Francis of Assisi often said that "there is no point in walking anywhere to preach, unless ones walking is ones preaching." A sentiment I wholly agree with. These men (and women) I love are REAL people, with REAL problems, in a REALLY oppressive culture, living in a staggering disposition to half-truths, violence, and anger, and if we are REALLY honest with ourselves, we won't see much of a difference between their world and our own. We all must overcome and we all hold within us the beauty & truth of our maker. GRACE MUST BE LIVED, NOT PREACHED...

...After all, what mere words could possibly make manifest the fulness of His grace? 

July 18, 2008

Like Stucco in Bullet-Holes

"The Cross is not a detour on the way to the kingdom, nor is it even the way to the kingdom, the cross is the kingdom come." - John Howard Yoder

{doll face with a doll face}

I'm often asked because of my views if 1st century Christianity was (is) a religious movement with political overtones or a political movement with religious overtones? I respond in actuality that no one in the 1st century would have ever made such a distinction. They were one in the same and thus what the GOD MAN proclaimed was & is high-treason. Perhaps if we honesty contextualized the revolution we supposedly adhere ourselves to we would stop calling the Bible a "good-book." Perhaps we might even find ourselves terrified of the words in our MANIFESTO. Or perhaps our eyes might even be opened to a whole new world; a KINGDOM THAT HAS COME; not one of some distant future that offers nothing to the millions of people living in the hell of this world. Freedom is NOW! Heaven has FALLEN. The REVOLUTION has come. 

{on our drive from Kabul to Mazar}

True Story: an Afghan believer came to the Lord a few years ago and started giving away bread. Every morning he would go out and buy exceedingly more bread than he could ever eat & would give the excess bread to the needy in his community. He shared all that he could while making just under $300 a year working as a teacher. Last year the police came to arrest him for no specific purpose beyond his faith but the poor people living on his block came out to meet them. They yelled and defended him as a man of honor. Nonbelievers defending believers in a country where Christianity is the "root of all evil"...Jubilee...


True Story: an Afghan believer came to the Lord many years ago and bought a megaphone. The week after his baptism he climbed the prayer tower of the largest masque in Afghanistan and preached the gospel. Needless to say he was martyred for his actions but he smiled as he took his last breath knowing the word had been proclaimed where never before...Jubilee...


True Story: Last week our team wandered the streets of Mazar gathering trash in a land where the streets are basically paved with it. We were peculiar to say the least and crazy to say the worst. Constructing puppets from the rubbish and performed stories for street kids and orphans we brought laughter into the streets. For an hour no one remembered they were hungry, homeless, and fatherless...Jubilee...


True Story: I teach an english speaking conversation class three times a week here in Mazar to 20 some odd Afghan men. All of my fellowship has warned me not to talk about politics, but seeing as their lives consist primarily of war, oppression, and lack of opportunity I kindly ignore their suggestions. We spend the mornings telling stories and dreaming of futures. We talk about community development and not relying on governments to take care of the poor. Hope fills the walls like Stucco in bullet holes. We conceptually imagine what peace could be like & actually create it for the few hours we meet...Jubilee...

{on our drive from Kabul to Mazar}

These first two weeks in Afghanistan have been incredible. Difficult, but incredible. We are all sick with various inhuman viruses unknown to science causing us to heave all known bodily fluids from every known orifice. One of our Afgan brothers here actually had his appendix taken out this past week giving George and I a much desired insight into one of the local afghan hospitals. We played nurse because well they do surgeries here, not follow up care. The doctors write prescriptions for pain medication, saline, IV's, needles, etc. which we would go purchase and figure out how to administer. But he survived and is back with us so I think I should at least get a medical degree of some kind. His experience is encouraging us to rely on the Lord for healing because well the doctors LOVE to remove organs for just about anything. They get paid more for amputations and such things after all...there is 1 doctor to every 8,000 Afghans in Mazar!

*Sorry for the poor photo resolution - the internet can't handle better quality here*

July 9, 2008

The Other Side of Earth

[Delhi, India]

The four days we spent in Delhi were a compulsory brain shift for us all,
blowing up our “world-view” and forcibly surfacing the ignorance we jointly share. While the excitement and optimisms remain they are now coupled with the reality that weather we want to admit it or not, WE LIVE IN A BROKEN WORLD.

The streets of Delhi are a circus of acrobatic disarray as cars, trucks, buses, rickshaws, bicycles, tractors, cows, pushcart vendors, stray dogs, horse-drawn thingies, and 25 million people from all walks of life jockey for position at 40 MPH. As our team left the airport we piled the 9 of us, plus our contact, plus the driver into a single taxi with our bags piled about 10 feet high on the roof. My lovely wife soon coined the phrase “Assume the Spoon” as we entered the “Big Top”. 

The extreme poverty of India is unavoidable. It doesn’t matter where you look because it pours into the streets from every direction. Street kids and beggars see our white skin from miles away & encompass our team, making me ponder what Jesus really meant when we said, “Give to those who ask”. The entire time we spent in India I couldn’t stop thinking about the Parable of the Good Samaritan. It was almost prophetic how much my thoughts drifted continually back to this story…

Ok so a Jewish man is robed, beaten and left for dead on the road to Damascus. Members of the Religious Right pass on by ignoring his desperate cry for help. Only the Samaritan man stops, loves the man and gives selflessly of himself, not just saving the man’s life, but paying for his entire recovery. Thus we have yet another peculiar insight to what we believers are meant to live like. 

…but as we spent our days in Delhi wandering the streets I had some questions for Jesus. I want to radically love people. I want to be the Good Samaritan, but what if there is more than one man dying in the street? What if the entire road to Damascus is littered with bodies? What if the entire city were? Country? I realized how ignorant my idealism was in India, but regardless if you were to ask me where Jesus lives today…
I would say He lives in Delhi. 

Probably the most notable instance from our time in India was being asked to join a gathering of all the various “M” workers throughout Delhi. There is nothing really comparable to fellowship with like-minded believers in a far away land, singing Hindi songs and breaking bread together. To pray for Delhi with local believers makes you realize how incredibly beautiful The Way really is.

We did have a few amazing opportunities to shoot photography. One afternoon we visited the largest Mosque in India and shot street kids playing on the steps. After a few minutes we had a hundred kids not begging for money but for their pictures to be taken, their faces glowing as we show them their pictures on the display. Joy in a joyless place. Jubilee erupts in the streets. Hallelujah.

So beyond anything spending 4 days in India got our heads on straight. We left Delhi full of questions, excitement, and hope for the months ahead. Honolulu, Tokyo, Delhi, Kabul, 20 plus hours of flights, 8 plus hours of cross desert driving, a few questionable mountain passes, various scary military check points & one suicide bomber later we are finally in Mazar-e Sharif…more to come…

June 24, 2008

careful words for seemingly reckless moments

{we love each other}

As most of you know by now (and if not, sheesh get with the program) Diane & I shared some vows, gave some rings, and did some kissing a little over a week ago. Yet I honestly think that a "wedding" must last much longer than the 20 minutes we shared in the sun; family and friends googling with anticipation; Diane and I recessing quirkishly down the aisle looking at each other in a "that was it?" kind of way. I was actually thinking about how anyone could spend so much time & money investing into such a minutiae-blur of a moment as I floated by all the posh faces...

It's so easy to say I love you, but it's another thing entirely to constantly demonstrate love through humility, selflessness, and grace; to walk a lifetime of patience with another, dying and dying again. It's also another thing entirely to extend the vows shared beyond one another to all of humanity, but so we are called by Christ to love. Last Saturday was not just another physical act, no, it was not just another foot washing. Rather, it shared more in common with baptism; an uprooting of the soul, a public declaration to literally be the hands and feet of Jesus in radical redemptive love to all people. To let the sand beneath our feet be an echo of His grace...


All that said, we did have an incredible Wedding. I don't know how in the world it turned out so beautiful on our "missionary budget" (i.e. free) but what an awesome example of God's provision. We are so incredible thankful to everyone who flew across oceans to be apart of it and to everyone who took time to think of us and smile. We love you all, miss you all, and can't wait to see you whenever God brings us back home. There should be pictures and videos floating around soon enough (these things happen when 90% of your guest list comprise of photographers). If you have been praying DON'T STOP we feel them in our bones...


Well amazingly one week from today we are heading to the field. All the lectures and prep work have been incredible but I must say Diane & I are just aching to leave. July 1st we start the first leg of our ROUND THE WORLD TRACK, as we and the team make our journey to Afghanistan. It will take us three or four days to even get to Kabul (via Japan & India) then we will bus over the mountains to the north of the country where we will primarily be working out of Mazar-e-Sharif. Once in Afghanistan we will have a solid couple weeks of language courses before we start working in the tribal communities doing food drops and capturing the incredible beauty of these people. The famine in Northern Afghanistan is worse today than ever and we long to aid the work being done by capturing their stories and by sharing the hope we have within us!!! I've never been so exited in my whole life. We so need your prayers for travel, safety, cultural sensitivity, reconciliation, and Lord knows the list could go on and on...

...We have no idea how much communication we will have once on the ground but I will try to update the blog as much as physically possible as well as send out e-mails...I will try and call as many of you as possible before we leave in a week. If you want to talk by all means don't hesitate to call, we don't care that we are "on our honeymoon" we just want to be able to share with you and touch base before we leave...

PS - I totally love these people...

June 3, 2008

God & Politics

{Three Degrees of Separation from Speaking of Faith}

If you have some spare time take a listen to this conversation between Chuch Colson, Greg Boyd (one of my favorite authors), and Shane Claiborne (also one of my favorite authors). This is so important and my heart has been here the last couple months...

May 24, 2008

No Great Leap of Faith {Afghanistan}

{over the edge}

Oh great "leap of faith" I wish to be rid of thee. Yet another phrase which draws the perfect sovereignty out of our Lord. It's a saying tossed around most Christian circles that I just can't get my head around. I long to never take another "leap of faith", but rather LIVE by faith; constantly uprooted and directed by the Lamb. To no longer simply "give thanks" before a meal, but more importantly live a life which merits thanks for the food provided. The problem is we are "living on the edge", close enough to the dangerous fall to hear the wind howling bellow. From time to time we leap into the air to feel the exhilaration of what it might be like to go over the edge. But the thought of "loosing ones life" in the fall keeps us from the freedom of flight. I propose we go beyond mere "leaps of faith" and unwittingly fall into the abyss, leaving only the glory of the Lord visible to save us from the rocks below...into the great unknown...  

{South Point - Hawaii Big Island}

So we have been working hard to finalize the first 3 months of field work we are about to embark on. I can't tell you how incredible exited I am to share with you what we will be doing. Last night after weeks of fumbling around with visas & NGO contacts we received an open invitation from our contact in Afghanistan. For those of you who don't know, there is currently a great famine going on in the northern territories of Afghanistan caused by draught and the continuation of violence in the region. The UN & Oxfam have estimated that unless aid workers can reach these tribal areas more than 7,500,000 people could die from starvation!!! So yesterday we received the invitation to go and work in Northern Afghanistan for 2 months delivering food as well as photographing and capturing the situation in hopes to bring further awareness and aid. The NGO we will be working side by side with (I can't share their name) has given us word that for US$170 they can feed a family of 7 for 2 months!!! If ANYONE is interested at all in helping us raise funds specifically for this purpose PLEASE get in touch with me. We (PhotogenX) are trying to raise around $10,000 which would allow us (YOU) to personally provide food to 60 families for the next two months while I am personally in the field...

Please pray for us in this time as we prepare to leave. We need our visas & immunizations to be taken care of this week!!! So please pray that God would provide in his perfect timing for us. I'm so exited I can hardly contain myself...

{South Point - Hawaii Big Island}

In other crazy news Diane & I are getting married in just 3 weeks now!!! Where in the world did the time go? Things are coming together and we just want to thank everyone who has sown into our relationship over the past couple months. You are such a blessing to our lives. I can't believe we are going to start our lives together traveling the world serving people. How perfect...

We are still looking for people to partner with us on this journey of hope. We so wish to share and dream with you of another world and put action to those dreams. We want to bring you with us as you sow into our work and share in the hope that we profess...we'll be in touch ;-)

{South Point - Hawaii Big Island}

May 6, 2008

Saints or Communists?

It is a beautiful thing when folks in poverty are no longer just missions projects but become genuine friends and family with whom we laugh, cry, dream, and struggle. One of the verses I have grown to love is the one where Jesus is preparing to leave the disciples and says, "I no longer call you servants... Instead, I have called you friends" (John 15:15)." Servanthood is a fine place to begin, but gradually we move toward mutual love, genuine relationships. Someday, perhaps we can even say those words that Ruth said to Naomi after years of partnership: 

"Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there be buried" (Ruth 1:16-17).

And that's when things get messy. When people begin moving beyond charity and toward justice and solidarity with the poor and oppressed, as Jesus did, they get in trouble. Once we are actually friends with folks in struggle, we start to ask why people are poor, which is never as popular as giving to charity.  In the words of the late Catholic bishop Dom Helder Camara: 

"When I fed the hungry, they called me a saint. When I asked why people are hungry, they called me a communist." 

Charity wins awards and applause, but joining the poor gets you killed. People do not get crucified for charity. People are crucified for living out a love that disrupts the social order, that calls forth a new world. People are not crucified for helping poor people. People are crucified for joining them.

{much of this post was borrowed from Shane Claiborne's book The Irresistible Revolution which I HIGHLY recommend by the way...oh & I love & miss you all}

May 1, 2008

Another Way of Doing Life

A few years ago the University invested $80,000 into new playground equipment to help better serve the many family's with children working here in Kona. There are so many amazing families with the cutest kids you could ever imagine. They laugh, cry and play together taking no regard to the fact that they can't speak the same language. They simply embrace each other as little people with different looking eyes & skin. Well I've been here a month now and I rarely see kids using the wooden castles & ships they have purposefully created for their enjoyment. I see them instead during my work duty (Diane & I take care of all the recycling here on campus as a part of contributing to this community) playing in our GIANT pile of cardboard and paper. They say "I pay no mind to those castles & ships, I just want to roll in the trash for a while. You built me an empire, yet all I need is my imagination." Usually I'm left holding my HI-5 cans wondering, "what if we as the Body of Christ looked like this?

{These are my favorite TEACHERS}

Diane & I are getting married June 14th. We haven't expected to have much of a WEDDING itself, which is fine with us as it leaves room to focus on the MARRIAGE, but God is so faithful to his people. His love is so overflowing. The past couples weeks He has provided basically all the things we were totally ok with not having for the day. Isn't it incredible how God LOVES to bless his kids with the things on their hearts? We give up - we let go - God is FAITHFUL and in CONTROL... 

{Thank you all SO much for your love and support in this!!!}

This coming week The Childers (A Voice for the Voiceless) along with a bunch of our PhotogenX companions will be heading to Washington DC. They will be meeting with Congress to discuss the continued "tradition" of INFANTICIDE in the Amazon. This past January Susie Childer's Photography of these issues culminated in the making of a documentary film, which will be shown in these meetings. The film is about a young girl named Hakani who amazingly survived her families tribal "tradition" of burring unwanted children alive. A Publication called "A Voice for Hope" will also be distributed in Congress, as well as to all the standing members of the United Nations, featuring PhotogenX photography. One of the major problems is that the Brazilian Government continues to deny the indigenous people basic human rights by excluding them from citizenship. This means that the constitution dose not apply to the tribal people, leaving the hundreds of families who want to save their children without a voice. This issue is so deep I cannot do it justice. Please go instead to the website above if you care to know more about this project. I wanted to make you aware because many of us here have been working on, praying into, and giving out hearts to this project since we stepped foot on this Island. So as our team heads to the States this week I just want to ask for prayer that God will soften the hearts of those they cry out to; that our Father's will and love for these beautiful children can infect the lives of men who's pen can bring an end to these brutal acts; that GODS heart for the VOICELESS will become OUR heart for the VOICELESS!!!

So often we look up to heaven and ask God, "Why is this world so broken?"
I honestly think most of the time He looks back down and says,
"I was about to ask you the same question"
"You are my HANDS & my FEET" 

I'll leave you today with a bit of what has been on my heart the last few days. Soren Kieregaard {one of my favorite 19th-century Danish Christian Theologians} said it far better than I ever could... 

" The matter is quite simple. The Bible is very easy to understand, But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand, we are obligated to act accordingly. Take any word in the New Testament and forget everything except pledging yourself to act accordingly. My God, you will say, if I do that my whole life will be ruined. How would I ever get on in the world? Herein lies the real place of Christian scholarship. Christian scholarship is the Church's prodigious invention to defend itself against the Bible, to ensure that we can continue to be good Christians without the Bible coming too close. Oh, priceless scholarship, what would we do without you? Dreadful it is to fall into the hands of the living God. Yes, it is even dreadful to be alone with the New testament."