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…