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Baja Social Action

One Year In

It’s been a year since I’ve got involved in working with asylum seekers at the border. Remember the migrant caravan? That was a year ago. 

And I think we need a reset. Let’s get back to the basic question of, “Why are people coming here to seek asylum?” 

Here’s where I want to start. The reason people are coming to seek asylum is because the United States has made their home countries unsafe. 

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Social Action

Bono on Capitalism

Capitalism is not immoral, but it is amoral. It gets its instructions from us. It’s an indiscriminate engine, and our obligation is to see that it provides forward movement to everyone, not just to those whose hands are on the levers of the machine.

Bono (source)

I think people get falsely infatuated with tax designation, as if being a charity or a for profit makes something more or less noble.

Instead of caring about whether something is for-profit or not-for-profit, perhaps we should care more about what they are doing with the resources and influences they have?

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Social Action

Invoking the P Word

So let’s just call this thing what it is. Christian persecution. Right here in the good ‘ole USA. Right here in the Lone Star State.

It’s happening all over the world. We just aren’t used to dealing with it in our own backyards. But the tide has turned. I have no doubt it is only going to get worse.

Today, I pray for those Houston pastors and their congregations who suffer for the name of Jesus. (See previous post “10 Things to Pray for Christians in Iraq.) May God use their persecution to strengthen their faith and bring glory to the name of Jesus. I also pray for myself. May I be counted with those who stood firm to the end no matter the cost.

Source

This blog post popped up in my Twitter timeline this morning. And I’ve seen similar sentiments pop up on Facebook and other social media this week.

To date, all I’ve seen is people going “Wow, can you believe this?” This is the first I’ve heard of someone calling what’s [allegedly] happening in Houston “persecution.” It’s quite a leap to switch from “Can you believe this mess?” to “This is persecution, just like in Iraq.

Americans friends… Let’s be careful about the ” P” word.

I’ve got 3 thoughts, feel free to disagree in the comments below:

  1. We all know that this isn’t going anywhere in our legal system. A city ordinance cannot overrule free speech– the First Amendment of the Constitution. Unless these pastors have been ordering hits on people in the gay community, they’ve got nothing to worry about.
  2. This story is about leverage, not persecution. Remove the storyline elements and you’ll see that some people are embattled with their local government and they are gaining leverage by creating public outcry. The more you tell this story the more leverage they gain. And you know what? You have no idea whose side you’re really on! It’s politics. You might actually agree with the city if you knew all of the facts. But repeating this story without really knowing the facts definitely advances one parties case.
  3. Real persecution happens. And I’m sure it happens in the United States. But be careful to not devalue our brothers and sisters disowned by their families, imprisoned, tortured, and killed around the world by invoking persecution in Texas over a city ordinance. The worst that would ever happen to those in this case is they’d get a fine, which would be tossed out by any judge at any level.

But Adam! Isn’t it a form of persecution?

In the most technical definition and sense of the word “persecution“– I suppose it is. But let’s not compare a local city ordinance issue with murder, torture, and false imprisonment.

And, to give context, these churches are experiencing no more persecution than your average 5th grader wanting to read his Bible at recess.

Yes, if this is really happening, you should be upset about it. All I’m saying is to be careful not to couch what is [allegedly] happening with a few churches in a city you don’t live in with violent persecution around the world.

Categories
Social Action

Guest Post at the 30 Hour Famine blog

Check out my latest guest post on the 30 Hour Famine blog, Putting It All Together for the Kingdom.

It’s pretty cool if you think about it. For me, it’s a great reminder that we’re not serving the little kingdoms of individual organizations, we’re serving the Kingdom of God.

Read the rest

Categories
Social Action

Liberty and Justice for All

The past few weeks have been full of horror and hope for me. There have been moments where I could do nothing but turn off the news. And there have been moments where I watched the news unfold, mesmerized to do little more than watch and pray.

Where is justice?

The Horrors

  • In an effort to stamp out Hamas, Israel shelled it’s own people in Gaza, killing more than 1,000 civilians. This included women and children seeking shelter in United Nations facilities. It makes no sense to me. There’s no justification acceptable for it and yet our country is so afraid of Israel that they just stand by and watch. New York can’t build a wall around Jersey and then send in troops, can they?
  • An unarmed teenager was gunned down by police in Ferguson, MO. Understandably, since Saturday racial tensions have continued to mount. Mostly peaceful protests have been punctuated by some regrettable looting and rapid militarization of the local police force. The police killed an unarmed teenager and then have the audacity to blame residents for being angry and taking to the streets? (Including the illegal arrests of two members of the media and an elected official.) The police exist to serve and protect the citizens! All of a sudden it looks the state of Missouri might just wall of the city of Ferguson. What’s next? Shelling?
  • Thousands of Central American children and adolescents are detained by border patrol for illegally entering the United States. Instead of asking the question, “Why is this happening?” the news media and some elected officials in Washington act as though we’re being invaded. Famously, members of the public took the bait. Instead of responding in a humanitarian way, people showed up in Murrieta to protest children’s arrival at a detention facility. Adults. Picketed. Children!
  • ISIS, a group so extreme that Al-queda won’t claim them, exploded into Iraq and are allegedly systematically committing genocidal acts against the population. It’s been hard to verify exactly what’s happening and there are rumors of all sorts of terror. But it’s abundantly clear that there’s an emerging humanitarian crisis going on. If the rumors are true, ISIS is committing atrocities that demand a response from neighboring countries.

All of these things stun the senses. They aren’t just news items. You can’t just flip the channel to a baseball game and move on. They are people.

I don’t know how people of conscience, much less ministers of the Gospel, can not stop what they are doing and pay attention.

These things are really happening. You and I have to act, somehow.

Prayer is not enough.

Hope

  • Last week, I had the joyous opportunity to visit the new IJM field staff in the Dominican Republic. The government there is overwhelmed with the crisis of commercially trafficked sexual exploitation (adults & minors) and is welcoming the International Justice Mission with open arms. Even a semi-trained eye can walk around tourist areas in the DR and see rampant sexual exploitation. It brings me hope to meet with passionate people who don’t cast a blind eye to injustice in front of them, but make sacrifices to stand up, seek justice, and ensure that victims experience restoration.
  • Two weeks ago I hung out with Jon Huckins, a good friend and co-founder of The Global Immersion Project. Their work started with leading experiences in Israel, taking Americans to all sides of the dispute there, hearing from leading voices in the peace process. Jon and his partner, Jer, are now taking those same lessons and helping leaders in cities throughout the U.S.. But I’m especially excited about two specific things with their work… 1. They are beginning a work helping church leaders better understand issues on the U.S./Mexico border with an immersion experience. 2. They are beginning to work with teenagers to help them understand the peacemaking process through immersion experiences.
  • This week, Marko and I are finalizing our latest collaboration which will help youth workers equip and activate teenagers in their ministry around issues of justice. We’ll be making an official announcement about it in the coming weeks, but I’m very excited about the long-term impact of this pivot within the Cartel.

To be honest, this dichotomy is confusing. I’m angered and frustrated about the horrors going on. While at the same time this despair is back-filled with hope in the knowledge that there is a lot I can actually do.

And I suppose that’s what the meaning of hope is, right? When all you are left with is despair, hope rises. 

Photo credit: Golden Lady Justice by Emmanuel Huybrechts via Flickr (Creative Commons)