Posts Tagged ‘ Global South ’

The Challenge of Africa

For the past several days, I have had the privilege of joining a group of students studying leadership in global perspectives.  They come from a variety of backgrounds – both nationally and vocationally. It’s been a wonderful experience thus far, and one that has challenged our comfort levels, our categories of understanding, and how we interact with our home contexts. So far, our time has been in Nairobi, Kenya, but we’ll be heading to Ethiopia soon. One of the things we’ve done is spend time in a slum called Mathare. It’s not the biggest slum in Nairobi, but it is home to about 800,000 people. I’ve had previous experiences in slums here in Nairobi, in Dominican Republic, and in India (including the one on display in Slumdog Millionaire), so I was somewhat prepared for what I’d see. It’s pretty jarring, though – seeing children with little or no clothing, running […]

Africa Comes First

The preparations for the big move to London continue. Most of our belongings are either gone now, or will be in the next couple of days. We’re trying to nail down housing, say goodbye to friends, and tie up all the loose ends. But what I haven’t mentioned much, whether on this blog, or on other social media outlets is that when I get on an airplane in four days, it won’t be London bound. First, I’m headed to Africa. I’ll be joining up with the cohort of students I help supervise through George Fox Seminary’s Doctor of Ministry in Global Missional Leadership. I’ve blogged about this program in the past. The cohort of students I work with met up for the first time about a year ago in the UK and Germany, and this time around, we’re going to be learning together in Nairobi, Kenya and Me’kele, Ethiopia. We’ll […]

The Complexity of Reconciliation

A while back, I blogged about our need for more sophisticated thinking.  Well, during my recent visit to South Africa, I had some experiences that uncovered some of my simplistic notions about things like justice, forgiveness, reconciliation, and progress.  In the 80s and 90s, it was all too easy for the world to look at the evils of apartheid, and judge white South Africans guilty, and isolate the nation as much as possible until it made the necessary changes to usher in democracy.  And once Nelson Mandela was released from prison and elected to take the new government forward, it was all too easy to celebrate and look on and think, “Well, it’s good to see that problem is behind us.  Now we can be enlightened friends with each other.” Not so fast.  The black majority may have the votes, and the control of the political systems, but who has […]

Globalizing Pop Christianity

Setting out on my global journey, one of the things I fully expected to see a lot of was USAmerican/Western influences in the churches and Christian communities I was visiting.  So it came as no surprise to me that Purpose Driven this, and Willow Creek that have been pretty visible in several places, as have been the worship songs (whether in English, or translated).  I’ve been to a church services with a live worship band, but the pastor’s sermon on a screen – a.k.a. video venue.  I’ve seen an African church website advertising it’s latest sermon series that riffs on the U.S. television show “Extreme Home Makeover.”  Even some of the voices from the emerging church are pretty well known around the world. In my opinion, this is one of the things that may most hinder truly missional expressions of church in the years ahead.  While it is true that […]

Mutual Partnerships That Work

One of my big areas of interest in taking the big trip is to explore ways of developing mutual relationships between Christians in the global South, and those in the North/Western world.  I’ve blogged before about some of the normal power dynamics and how they need to change in order for us to work well together moving forward. I got the opportunity to visit a church in an area south of San Jose, Costa Rica called Alajuelita.  The church is called Centro Christiano de Alabanza (CCA).  Upon arrival on the campus, I was a bit overwhelmed.  Dozens of school children were running around, having just gotten out of class for the day, the indoor soccer arena had a lively game going, the restaurant was bustling with noon-time business, and as I entered a very large sanctuary, I thought, “Geez, this is a full-on megachurch!”   In some ways, that’s an apt […]

Politics Anyone? Si!

Throughout the past couple of weeks here in the Caribbean/Latin America, I’ve had several random conversations with people.  After traveling to India last summer, during the U.S. presidential election campaigns, and being constantly asked about whether I thought Obama could win the White House (which everyone there wanted to happen), I was interested to hear what people here are thinking.  I offer the following completely non-scientifically validated observations about USAmerican political topics (in no particular order).  Sorry if they don’t match up with your politics – the reason for this post is just to give a brief glimpse into people that may or may not have votes to cast, but certainly have to deal with the consequences of U.S. politics. – The people of this region are happy (very) that Barrack Obama is the president.  They are hopeful for positive changes in the relationships between the U.S. government and the […]

Praise For A Cause I Don’t Support

I’ve been a practicing Christian my whole life.  For the vast majority of it, I have been heavily embedded in the Christian ghetto – from feel-good churches to the Jesus-junk bookstores to “positive talk radio” to being a journalist in the “contemporary Christian music” industry.  I’ve been to countless events – concert festivals, stadium evangelism gatherings, and yes, I’ve seen the Power Team live.  Some of what I’ve just written, I’m deeply embarrassed about.  Some of it is silliness that I can laugh about in the way everyone laughs at the wardrobe choices in their old high school photos as they’re preparing for their 20 year reunions.  Some of that stuff I’m actually okay with – but I won’t tell you what! Anyway, at many of these Christians Attending Ghetto Events (a.k.a. CAGEs), there is a “pitch” for a cause.  There are a number of organizations that do these pitches, […]

Holistic Mission and Evangelization

Attempting to write about my experiences in the Dominican Republic is a daunting challenge. I got to spend time in a wide range of church ministry environments, and I learned so much that it’s hard to encapsulate it. The pastors and churches of la Red Del Camino that I’ve met are so energetic, creative, and driven to demonstrate visible signs of the in-breaking of the Kingdom of God. They get out into their communities, listen to what’s going on, and what the needs of people are, and they respond. If you looked at the group of churches, you would notice some common threads between them, like low-cost schools for families that wouldn’t normally have access to high-quality education, or clean water treatment facilities. But another common thread is that these churches are bold and unashamed about including a gospel message in what they do with and for the people. They […]

Playing the Power Game

After getting off the airplane in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, getting my luggage, and going through customs, I was greeted by Alfredo, who works with la Red Del Camino network here in the DR.  Specifically, he works with a program called Endeavor, which receives and deploys teams of people from outside the country who come here to do various “ministry” projects.  Previously he worked with Habitat for Humanity.  One of the distinctives of Endeavor is that when they’re contacted by a group wanting to come do a “mission trip,” they hit the pause button from the get-go.  They believe that before just jumping into a work project together, it’s much better to become friends first.  This means slowing down long enough to get to know each other and develop some mutuality in the relationship.  Sure, they’ll end up getting some important work done, but first things first. Alfredo explained that […]

The Questions of Caribbean Theology

Within just a couple of hours of being in Puerto Rico, I had the opportunity to sit with Professor Agustina Luvis in her office at the Seminario Evangelico de Puerto Rico.  Dr. Luvis teaches a broad range of courses, including Systematic Theology, courses on Pentecostalism, Feminist Theology, and Caribbean Theology.  I learned a lot in my brief time with her, and left with a lot more questions than I had gone into our meeting with – which is usually a very good sign. I asked her about some of the distinctive elements between Caribbean Theology and other Latin American theologies.  She has written an article about this in the Global Dictionary of Theology.  She told me that in Caribbean Theology, there is a stronger focus on the impacts of colonialism than in other Latin American theologies.  When she teaches her class on this topic, she helps her students methodically deconstruct […]