Thursday, November 21, 2013

God is in the slums

A couple days ago, I spent half a day with a friend of mine, Dr. Nzash Lumeya, who is a missionary to Fresno. Originally from The Congo, Nzash studied in France, got a doctorate from Fuller Seminary and somehow found himself ministering among the poorest people in our city. As he spent half a day taking us around the neighborhoods he serves, I was struck by the longevity of this humble man and his impact on families. For over 7 years, he has been selflessly reaching out to those for whom he might be the closest thing to "church" they will ever see, touch, or hear.

One thing he said to me I have not been able to shake.

"When we help people directly, through meeting the needs of the poor, then God's love for them goes from speculation to reality."

Most people have an idea of what they think church is about, who they think Jesus is. Many times this impression is overwhelmingly negative. What I heard from Nzash is this: when we put tangible action ahead of rhetoric then people get to see who God's followers are and hopefully, what He is really like.

This whole business of trying to be faithful to the character of God within the confines of organized religion can sometimes be incredibly discouraging. And yet, where challenges persist, innovations are always possible. Recently, I was at a District Advisory Committee meeting for Clovis Unified School District and we were shown this inspiring story.

And so we press on to find ways to bring the solution into contact with the people who need it. Since we need the solution (Jesus) ourselves, it shouldn't be hard to share with others. As long as we are looking in the right places.


“God is in the slums, in the cardboard boxes where the poor play house. God is in the silence of a mother who has infected her child with a virus that will end both their lives. God is in the cries heard under the rubble of war. God is in the debris of wasted opportunity and lives, and God is with us if we are with them.”― Bono

Thursday, October 17, 2013

#HumanRights and Blog Action Day 2013

I haven't written too many blog entries this year. But as I heard about this year's topic for Blog Action Day, I knew that I had to chime in about #HumanRights. The UN's Declaration of Human Rights is a document that I have studied since college and a vital step forward for millions, even billions of people--if and only if, governments and the people of the world agree to do something about it.

While far from a perfect grassroots organization, our efforts here in Fresno/Clovis to shine a light on people who are living in extreme poverty, represents to me a very local and human response to making sure that people, especially women and children DO NOT DIE JUST BECAUSE THEY WERE BORN IN THE WRONG PART OF THE WORLD.

So today, one day late for #BAD2013 I might add, I am thankful for all the volunteers and supporters of ONE. I am thankful to Congressman Devin Nunes office for consistently listening to our concerns and advocacy and building towards Clovis/Tulare CA 22 becoming a voice for the global poor.

In the last several years we have signed up over 1,000 new ONE members through outreach events, concerts and personal sharing. Nearly every basic human right is threatened by extreme poverty and each of us can use our voice for those don't have one!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Meza Films project

This past spring, I had the privilege of being profiled by a local photographer and filmmaker, Enrique Meza, for a project called "Who Cares?"

Enrique is not only a very talented artist, but he is committed to showcasing and supporting a more positive and accurate view of the people and communities that make up Fresno.

View the whole profile here.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Faith Over Fear

A talk I gave recently that focuses on our response when we encounter situations that seem hopeless.

How do we have faith when we only feel fear?
Faith Over Fear from Northpark Community Church on Vimeo.

Friday, January 25, 2013

10 Favorite Albums of 2012

2012 Top Ten Albums in 140 characters each

10. Sleigh Bells - Reign of Terror: surprised by how much I enjoyed outrageously abrasive production/infectious melodies. Over. The. Top.

9. Craig Finn - Clear Heart Full Eyes: All my downtime makes me nervous, Finn says. Somehow I get that. Pure gut-punch stories via Nashville.

8. The Jealous Sound - A Gentle Reminder: gently reminding us how needed Blair's heartbroken lyricism is. Heard it before? Yes. Still vital? Yes!

7. Kathleen Edwards - Voyaeur: Sounds like spring in the dead of winter. Folksy, modern, tragicomic songs delivered by veteran songstress.

6. From Indian Lakes - Able Bodies: Making Central Cal proud with mathpop time-shifts, sharp-edged guitars, AND singable, intelligent songs.

5. Of Monsters and Men - My Head Is An Animal: many instruments, voices make a pleasant racket...should sound plastic but instead is sublime.

4. Japandroids - Celebration Rock. If crafting fuzzy, stadium-sized, 3XL anthems is so easy, ask yourself this: Why am I not in the Spin Top 50?

3. The Killers - Battle Born: Brandon Flowers is gifted. Ambitious, soaring, passion-pop songs that tell Our Story, circa '12. Not trendy but timeless.

2. The Walkmen - Heaven: indie music for vacations, storytime, and bittersweet love (the only kind). And it sounds amazing.

1. Hammock - Departure Songs: post-rock masterwork. Sprawling, densely layered double album, sounds like planets spiraling over fiscal cliff.