So much need


There’s so much need here.  Sometimes it’s overwhelming.  Almost every day you see or hear of someone in desperate need – a young guy trying to make a living by selling airtime on the street corner, shivering because it’s cloudy and windy and he only has a thin t-shirt.  A 17-year-old girl whose father died and whose mother is in the eastern province somewhere – she’s trying to finish school by working as a house maid, but her employers haven’t paid her in weeks.  Another man who gets paid only 400 kwacha a month – just forty dollars to try and support his family.

I find myself with thoughts like, “Well, maybe he is just absent-minded and forgot his coat.  Maybe he’s standing there selling airtime in his t-shirt because he forgot to wear something heavier” or “maybe she did something to deserve not being paid for several weeks even though she’s just seventeen.” …

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A Messiah In Exile


Man walking

I wonder how Jesus adjusted to living on Earth in his humanity? To me it was apparent that he felt out of place trying to fit in with mortal men. Was Jesus homeless? Did he have a place to call his own on Earth? We know that he had a home when he was a child but as an adult he was a nomad. In Matthew and Luke Jesus tells a scribe that:

“Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” Matthew 8:20

Even though his humanity struggled with identifying where home was, his divinity did not. Jesus knew his place was/is at the right hand of the father and we know his kingdom is found within each of us.

The human part of Jesus was essentially an expat in today’s definition. As his parents fled with him to Egypt at a young age and he lived there for a while until they moved back.  As a human he was clearly a Third Culture Kid (TCK). There must have been a struggle within his humanity to define where home was on Earth. He even displaces himself from the world in John 15 by telling us our home is not of this world.

If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. John 15:19

To me that sounds like the divinity side of Jesus is speaking when he explains that we are vagabonds on our own planet. Obviously, I am not trying to get into a debate of where home was for Jesus. I am just simply trying to understand the struggle of humanity when defining “home” and how we can relate to this struggle as missionaries.

Culture is a wonderful thing and it adds a lot to our human nature. Just the diversity of all the different subcultures within a particular culture is overwhelming and beautiful. Identifying with a culture, tribe, clan is natural, it’s what makes us human in a way.

God designed us to be relational creatures living in community. So when I think about the humanity in Christ I think about how much he must have struggled to identify to a particular community on Earth. He tried to identify as Jewish but even the Jews rejected him and drove him to exile on the outskirts of Jerusalem.

Regardless, it got me thinking of an article I read lately about where missionaries sense of belonging comes from. In a way the situation is similar and the struggle easy to correlate to the experiences of Christ. Do you think we as missionaries feel similar to the humanity of Christ as he went from place to place?

After growing up in a Navy household I understand how it can be frustrating to identify with multiple cultures, so deep down I wonder if Jesus was equally frustrated. For most missionaries the struggle is very real  and burdensome. The article below by David Joannes paints a pretty interesting perspective of this experience and struggle.

“When at “home”, the missionary dreams about their host country. When in their host country, the missionary dreams about their home country.”

Guy plane

A friend of mine after I posted this on Facebook reminded me of a song we use to listen to in college. Dustin Kensrue who is the lead singer of Thrice is a devout Christian and his lyrics don’t hide that. I imagine he is putting himself in the perspective of Christ or a missionary as he sings this song.

For sure Jesus led a rough life and his travels and relationship with culture and humanity had to be confusing for the part of him that was perfectly man. As for the missionary or evangelist in a similar situation the struggle to find home is also a legit reality.

“In Exile”

I am an exile – a sojourner; A citizen of some other place.

All I’ve seen is just a glimmer in a shadowy mirror,
But I know one day I’ll see face to face.

I am a nomad – a wanderer; I have nowhere to lay my head down.
There’s no point in putting roots too deep when I’m moving on.
I’m not settling for this unsettling town.

My heart is filled with songs of forever –
Of a city that endures, where all is made new.
I know I don’t belong here; I’ll never
Call this place my home, I’m just passing through.

I am a pilgrim – a voyager; I won’t rest until my lips touch the shore –
Of the land that I’ve been longing for as long as I’ve lived,
Where there’ll be no pain or tears anymore.

My heart is filled with songs of forever –
Of a city that endures, where all is made new.
I know I don’t belong here; I’ll never
Call this place my home, I’m just passing through.

Remembering the Birth of a Savior While Reflecting on the Birth of a Ministry


Remembering the Birth of a Savior While Reflecting on the Birth of a Ministry

December in Lusaka, Zambia is void of snow, white pines, sledding and drinking hot chocolate next to the yule log fireplace. However, that doesn’t stop the shopping centers and supermarkets from playing “White Christmas” or “Jingle Bells”. As a matter of fact a lot of common western Christmas traditions are gladly accepted and welcomed here as if they were their own. Last week Santa came walking through the supermarket and the kids ran up to him in immense excitement. From what we have seen since the beginning of the month Christmas is alive and well here in Zambia.


Everything is decorated for the season from houses to restaurants, to even the water bottles which read Merry Christmas. It’s fun to see the kids get in front of a snow globe at the mall and take pictures while it’s 90 degrees outside. It’s sort of a bizarre scene after living in the United States and experiencing a typical white Christmas the last few years. Last week my wife reminded me as I was feeling out of place that Christ’s birth was closer to palm trees than pine trees. Even after all the commercialism and marketing for the hottest deals for the Christmas season, Christ has not be relegated here in Zambia.


Throughout the last few weeks of Advent if you listen attentively you can hear great choral performances of Away in the Manager, O Holy Night, and Hark the Herald Angels Sing along with many others. You can see congregations full of people praising the Lord for His coming into the world. In the shopping centers the excitement builds on the street as people dance and sing in their native tongues to show their appreciation. In these moments you can literally feel the spiritual excitement that Zambians have for this time of year and for our Savior.

HOPE Zambia is appreciative of new beginnings and the power of redemption for all. If the story of the birth of Jesus tells us anything it’s that change and reconciliation can come in small packages and little steps. Although the birth of our Savior is incomparable in practicality to the birth of a savings ministry, we still draw inspiration from Christ’s humble beginnings in Bethlehem.

During the last three months we have been working with the Nazarene church and the Brethren In Christ church in Zambia to start a new savings group ministry. We are making little steps with the churches to give people the opportunity to share Jesus in a whole new way.  We would be blessed beyond belief if this time next year the savings group ministry helped someone have an even brighter Christmas and a chance at a new beginning.



*This does not express the views or opinions of HOPE International.  I have taken my own liberties and formed my own opinions on the basis of experience and observation.

Third Culture Kids and the Quest to Define “Home”


The worst question that anyone can ask me is “where are you from?” or “where is home for you?” These are loaded questions that never seem to have a brief answer no matter how hard I try to give one. The time it takes to define and proverbially word vomit my entire life history in a span of a few seconds to someone asking a simple question is exhausting.  In the last year I have come to find that I am not the only one with a fearful condition of being asked these questions.  I discovered thanks to my wife a book that has helped me work through answering this question internally and externally to those I am in community with. Actually, what is really neat is there is an entire community of people all over the world who share in this same misery.

David Pollack and Ruth E. Van Reken published a book entitled “Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds”.  After reading this book I came to understand a subculture of wandering nomads that I now subscribe to and maybe you do now too called: Third Culture Kids.

So what is a “Third Culture Kid”? by definition Pollack describes a TCK as child who was raised in a culture outside of their parents’ culture for a significant part of their development years. Ultimately, your parents home culture is defined as the “first culture”. The host country, state or territory where you are being raised outside of your parents home culture becomes the “second culture”. Then the shared lifestyle of merging your home and your host country together is known as the interstitial culture or your “third culture”.



According to Pollack and Van Reken there are many types of TCKs from many different categories and they’re not all defined as children. One can meet the criteria in so many ways as a foreign service kid, military brat, corporate brat, or a missionary kid. Chances are if you are a TCK or a TCA (adult version sometimes called ATCK)  you fall within one of those four models. Within these four models, an individual can add on even more complexity by the way they immerse themselves into their current host culture. Typically TCK’s are Chameleons, Screamers or Wallflowers.

Chameleons are those who try to find a “same as” identity. They hide their time lived in other places and try to conform externally through clothes, language, or attitudes to whatever environment they are in.

Screamers are those who try to find a “different from” identity. They will let other people around them know that they are different and have no plans to assimilate.

Wallflowers are those who try to find a “nonidentity”. Rather that risk being exposed as someone who doesn’t know the local culture rules, they prefer to sit on the sidelines and watch, at least for an extended amount of time before they participate.

Erin has assured me that I am a chameleon and I can’t say I disagree either. This explains the pain I must endure whenever someone asks me where I’m from. On the outside it forces me to break the illusion that I am from the host culture. Once the question has been answered my camouflage fails and I am being seen for the first time.  I begin to feel like an outsider exposed to all within the host culture as if they are saying “You don’t belong”.

In recent times I have begun to understand and adapt to this awkward exchange and come to terms with the fact that home is not a physical place. If you are reading this and feel the same whenever someone ask you where home is, then I strongly recommend you buy the book with an embedded link above. So the next time you ask someone where home is make sure you give us TCKers a little grace when we answer….That question is the worst.

Coca Cola vs The Bible


Starting the new year I couldn’t help to think that 2015 years ago according to our calendars Jesus Christ was born. If you think about it and zoom out a little 2015 rotations of our small planet around the sun isn’t many. Every 33 minutes that go by you can rest assured that 2015 seconds have come off the clock. My point is that it wasn’t long ago that Jesus walked this Earth in his human form. Within the last 2000 years the disciples and apostles have successfully told the story of who Christ was and is amongst many nations and people. If we fast forward to today we can see the results of the many miles put under their feet and the life altering testimonies they shared.  It is estimated that Christianity has spread to be the largest confessed religion on the planet with over 2 billion or 30% of the worlds population identifying Christ as their savior and redeemer.

Pie Chart

Within our population we find segments in culture that evangelicals have labeled as a “people group”. Dr. Orville Boyd Jenkins from  Global Research states that “A people group is an ethnolinguistic group with a common self-identity that is shared by the various members. Language is a primary and dominant identifying factor of a people group. But there are other factors that determine or are associated with ethnicity.”  According to Joshua Tree Project  out of 16,600 ethnic people groups in the world  43% of them have no indigenous community of believing Christians able to evangelize the rest of their people group. They also calculate that roughly 2.91 billion individuals live in approximately 5,900 “unreached” people groups in the 10/40 Window, which have not heard the Word of God.

1040 window

(To look into what these charts mean follow this link: Groups

So how does this relate to Coca Cola? 

Well as of today there are 50 countries out of 196 that either persecute or prohibit Christianity in their own country. The Coca Cola company in comparison is prohibited in only 2 countries: North Korea and Cuba.  Coke is recognized by 94% of the worlds population and is the second most understood term in the world behind “okay”. Christianity on the other hand and its Gospels are only recognized by 60%-65% of the worlds population, which means roughly 40% or over 3 billion people have never heard of Jesus Christ..

Coca Cola which was founded in a small town in Columbus, Georgia in 1944 has spread faster and its message clearer than any book of the Gospel in a fraction of the time. What is even more amazing is that the Atlanta based company claims that 1.8 billion servings of their products are downed each day. According to their financial numbers n 2010 their revenue totaled $35.1 billion which would make them the 84th largest economy in the world, just ahead of Costa Rica.


So knowing that I am comparing apples to oranges here…Our commandments and commission from Christ is clear. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and Love your neighbor as yourself. Therefore because He loves us through creation we must go and make disciples of all nations,baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything Jesus commanded. Surely this task is a daunting one but also a noble one.

Apparently, somewhere along the way we are getting schooled by a soda company that has only been around since the 1940s…. A company that over time studies have shown a correlation to obesity, kidney damage, and certain cancers as well as elevated blood pressure. Lord knows I am not one to state that Coca Cola is an evil corporation that sells terribly unhealthy products to consumers and that we need to stop enjoying them, surely you can be the judge of that. I am just amazed that this country with all of its good people and resources is better equipped at distributing sugar water instead of living water. 


Cool and Interesting sites


Perspective on The Sabbath


The Sabbath laws were put in place not just so people could go to worship services on Sunday (or Saturday) mornings but to make sure that the Hebrew people didn’t revert to the exploitative economy of the empire from which they were saved. If they were going to be a peculiar people, then they needed a peculiar kind of economy when they were in Egypt. God brought them out to this new place so that they could cultivate an entirely new economy of death.

The Sabbath laws were sort of like God’s system of checks and balances on Israel’s economy to make sure that no one got too rich and no one got too poor. God knew the painful reality of human sin all too well and the probability that the Hebrew people might drift back into a society of haves and have-nots. To prevent this distorted economy from developing; God got creative and came up with these Sabbath laws.

We catch a glimpse of these laws in those books of the Bible that most of us hardly ever read. Growing up, we were taught to sing the exciting songs of Noah and Abraham and little David and Goliath. But never were we taught songs about debt cancellation, land reforms, food redistribution, and slave amnesty, We don’t know if it was just hard to come up with words that rhyme with “debt cancellation” or if folks were hesitant about venturing into the ancient (and sometimes boring) world of Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy (in which case, we wouldn’t blame them) Whatever the case, those books are where some of God’s most creative and exciting ideas come alive.

There were laws for welcoming strangers and illegal immigrants and for practices like gleaning, which allowed the poor to take leftovers from the fields (God would have some harsh things to say about laws prohibiting dumpster diving for food.) The Sabbath laws made sure that the most vulnerable of society (usually widows, orphans, and the elderly) were looked after. And there were clear warnings against taking financial interest or creating debt. (So you can see where we’re headed. If we applied Sabbath law today, the bank owner would be as much a criminal as the bank robber. And a lot of credit card companies and international organizations would be in really big trouble.)

One of the most exciting of the Sabbath laws was applied every seven years. Just like the Hebrew people were supposed to refrain from working every seventh day so that their land, animals, and servants could rest (a marked contrast to their overworked life in Egypt), every seventh year, the Hebrew people had a celebration called the Jubilee (named after jovel, a rams horn that sounded to herald the remission), during which they would take the whole year off from work. During this one-year break, all the food that continued to grow in the fields was free for the taking for families who were struggling to get by (Exod. 23:10). And any debt that folks had incurred during the past six years was erased. These laws ensured that those in society who were intent on getting ahead had to take a break so that the gap between the rich and the poor would be kept to a minimum. It is almost impossible for us to grasp how wildly counter cultural (and difficult) this economic practice really was. God’s idea for this peculiar people was that there be “no poor people among you” (Deut. 15:4), which was a very different way of life for these former slaves.

And as if that weren’t enough to keep society from going off-kilter, God threw in one more practice- one giant celebration to be celebrated every 49th/50th year (seven times seven). It was called the Jubilee of Jubilee- God’s comprehensive unilateral restructuring of the community’s assets to remind Israel that all property and land belonged to God, and that they must never return to a system of slavery (Lev. 25:35-42). The Jubilee of Jubilee aimed to dismantle structures of social-economic inequality by releasing each community member from debt (Lev 2:25-42), returning encumbered or forfeited land to its original owners (25:13, 25-28) and freeing slaves (25:47-55). Some might call it a regularly scheduled revolution.

God had seen how these people had suffered under empire in Egypt and had hoped that these initiatives would prevent that from happening ever again.

For the sake of a watching world, God systematically interrupted the human systems that created poverty-releasing debt, setting slaves free, prohibiting usury, and redistributing property. Sounds like a pretty good kingdom, especially compared with the one from which they came and all the surrounding Canaanite powers. Sounds like a platform even we could vote for.

Some folks say dismissively that the Israelite ‘s never fully lived out the Jubilee. But folks could also say that Christians don’t live out the teachings of Jesus. These are still God’s commands and dream for the world. At their core, these Hebrews laws were ways God was protecting the integrity of a new humanity. It was not simply for their sake but for the sake of creation. For creation the original plan of God was that Israel would be set apart to redeem the nations. This was not a plan to reform the pagan nations around it-like making the neighboring Assyrian empire better at doing empire. Rather, God would save the world through fascination, by setting up an alternative society on the margins of empire for the world to come and see what a society of love looks like. It would be the city on a hill that God would use to light up the world, drawing the world back to God. Their light dimmed (at time, almost snuffed out) with Israel’s unfaithfulness and would require a new strategy-but not another flood. Death would be defeated by love. In the story of Noah, God exterminates the many to save the few, and in the story of Abraham, God sets apart the few to save the many.

This little group continued to return to the patterns of the nations and fall short of the dream of God. They never fully entered the Promised Land. But God didn’t give up. God will give them a fresh vision of the Promised Land, which they will come to know as the kingdom of God on earth. God’s Son will embody that hope for the world. God has had enough of the messes of empires and kings. Indeed, it’s time for a different kind of king and a different kind of empire. The prince of Peace, the royal Son comes to earth. To triumph?  We’ll see…………………….



Shane Claiborne

(Jesus For President P. 57-60)

Meeting People Where They Are

Recently, I have been reading a book that Erin Wilson gave me by Gabe Lyons entitled “The Next Christians” You might know Gabe from his past work entitled “Unchristian” In this modern work of progressive Christianity Gabe challenges the reader right away well, contextually on the front cover of the book as it grabs the reader declaring good news towards the end of Christian America, and how a new generation is restoring the faith. Well wait hold up what is Christian America and why is it good news that its ending?

Image(Click on the Book)

Well I believe that Gary Haugen founder of International Justice Mission paints a good picture of Christian America before he came to see a new point of view “For him the Christian was synonymous with the American dream: two cars and a suburban home in a gated community, he believed that protecting his children from the world of corruption was his main duty. (Lyons “The Next Christians” pg.82) However, what we find is that this representation of Christianity is way far off from what we are called to do. We are not meant to live safe lives as some have thought before us. As Christians it should be known how dark the world is and how sin has corrupted the best of us in 1 Timothy1:15 Paul even calls out himself and lays down to us “a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners–of whom I am the worst”. Now a days we keep asking more and more what has become of us?

Well some say we have grown soft and relatively comfortable in searching out suburbia as a suitable goal for life. We have been tricked by Satan that the stuff we have means we have lived successful lives. We have been tricked to learn that as an individual you can do anything you want without a community. Most importantly as Christians, we have been deceived to settle for worldly comfort instead of meeting those that sin along side us in the dark places. We don’t go to those dark places fearing in someway it will protect ourselves from danger; worrying that our own safety and our own comforts maybe forfeited by radical action in these places. (which is true depending on how you define your living comforts).

This is what Christian America has done to some of us, we have crippled ourselves to stay away from evil instead of fighting it where it grows. Sin has a grand reach on us and on this world but if we are not using Christs example to fight it where it manifests then what are we doing? The example in my mind I like to remember comes from Mark 1:21-25 where Jesus drives out an evil spirit. “They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law.Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an evil spirit cried out, “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”“Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!” The evil spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek.” The awesome thing about this is that Christs light made the demon shudder, Christ had power even over the most evil and even evil recognized this. It’s the same power he gives to us all but are unaware or afraid to use it.  Have you ever noticed when Jesus heals someone our blesses someone most of the time he states that “it is your faith that has healed you”…? There is a reason for this…Gods kingdom is not of this world but rather inside your heart, your heart is the weapon that helps those who need Gods grace get it or drives out the evil in the dark. We have the power to reach those in the most sinful of places because Gods Kingdom protects from it not because “we” are powerful to fight it. My point being is that there is nowhere that evil can hide from Christ, even in the dark places that Christians get ridiculed if they are to descend there for evangelical purposes.


Think about it for a second…Christ hung around sinners, he hung around the sick, the prostitutes, the pharisees, the liars and cheaters, the drunks, and the violent even the homeless. Where are you? Who do you talk to? I can assure you that as a Christian in America  most of us don’t even know a single individual that Jesus may associate himself around.“All around you, people will be tiptoeing through life, just to arrive at death safely. But dear children, do not tiptoe. Run, hop, skip, or dance, just don’t tiptoe.” (Shane Claiborne “Irresistible Revolution” pg 102) We have to meet people where they are, we have to give grace to those who don’t know it or have it. We have to remember we were all there at one point or another too, in other words you lived in that same valley that non believers did before you met Christ.

Side note: For those who don’t know Shane Claiborne he is an example of a Christian who is redefining what it is to live in the knowledge of God. Here is a link describing his mission and vision of todays Christians (

Obviously,  Gabe Lyons has seen the same problem that more and more of my Christian brothers and sisters are seeing today. The issue is not what Christ can do..but what we can do. We are called to put our neighbours above us not because its easy but because its hard (sorry to rip off JFK). We have a world split into a couple of different groups of people. Those that know Jesus and suffer through the world and those that suffer in the world because they don’t know Jesus. There is a need to bridge a gap for both of these groups, suffering doesn’t just disappear in your ability to believe in Christ…it is not God that allows suffering to stay (although God can use suffering to grow you towards Him) but rather it is the sin and brokenness of the world that allows evil, hate and judgement. I think the vision going forward is learning how to live in the brokenness and not let it effect your faith. It is apparent we are not called to live safe lives. Gabe puts it like this when referring to the next generation of believers the “Un-American Christians” “When provoked, the next Christians engage the dirtiness of our world without fear of tarnishing their reputations. Their actions aren’t affected by what others think. But I must offer a word of caution. When provoked Christians take up this challenge, they inevitably find themselves under scrutiny, often from those who love them the most. Their concerned friends or family are perplexed that Christ would want someone in such places, hanging out with “those kind” of people” (Gabe The Next Christians p.83)

In recent memory I have had my best talks with people about God and his incarnation in flesh in His son Christ with people in some rough sports bars. I remember I got this concept from two UMD students who discipled me my first year at University of Maryland. They would meet at a local hotspot called the College Perk (no longer in business). Here they would talk for hours with college students, musicians, locals, regulars, and of course nonbelievers. I was amazed by the acceptance of a lot of the regulars and their poking questions on who Christ is…and man were there a lot of them who were misinformed of the meaning of the Gospel. No one said its easy to descend into  places where sin manifests but we are called to help out our brothers and sisters. Paul knew what life was like in the next place with Christ and eagerly anticipated being there. However, Paul also knew his calling was to help those who needed help first in this life even though he was torn about it. If we accept Christ and wait around for the end of our journey without reaching out then what value is life to us?  The end all be all can not be self preservation….If we can’t meet those where they are then what is the point of following Christ for our own sake?

Philippians 2: 5-11

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name,10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

ImageSwitchfoot- Restless