Monday, January 31, 2005

Things We Don't Talk About - Part 2

If you didn't see it on Saturday, catch a repeat of "Michael Jackson's Secret Childhood" on VH1. Yes, the show feels tabloid-ish and sensational. But whatever exagerations may have been presented on the margins, the undisputed facts about Michael's childhood are what they are: being forced to perform in strip clubs as a boy; witnessing orgies on the road; being locked in a room with prostitutes as a teen to prove his manhood; verbal and physical abuse fom dad; religious manipulation; etc. On the eve of "grown-up" Michael's sordid child molestation trial, it's a provocative reminder of the need to create healing communities for the millions of children abused by those they trust the most. __________________________ Check out my latest column "Things We Don't Talk About" for the testimony of an abused boy whose adult life turned out a little differently than Michael's.

"He trusted her. That's what little brothers do, so when his eight year old sister and her friend called him into a field, four year old Eric went. There he entered a world without boundaries. Beginning that afternoon, for the next six or seven years his sister and her friends touched him, made him touch them, violated him. "To whom could he turn? Not mom, who had divorced his father when Eric was one. Whenever he would visit, she would walk around the house naked. More often, she simply ignored him. Dad was one of six ex-husbands, plus lovers. Nor was his physically violent and verbally abusive father a better option. ... "Eric's story is far more common than we care to admit. One in three girls and one in six boys are sexually abused in childhood, and twenty percent of women have had at least one incestuous experience before 18. Given these and other realities, what happens when God answers our prayers and His word, sharper than a two-edged sword, cuts deep to expose the cancers of life?"

Evangelicals Influential?

Time magazine thinks so. Congratulations, all, especially Luis Cortes of Nueva Esperanza. Generation Xcel has received $80,000 in subgrants from Esperanza's federal Compassion Capital Grant in the last two years.

Court tomorrow

Please pray as we return to court tomorrow following a failed attempt on Friday to arrive at an out-of-court settlement in our eviction proceeding. While mediation has so far been unsuccessful, we are confident that the ultimate outcome of this case will honor God and maintain a spiritual lighthouse in the community.

What Does it Mean to be Latino?

My dad goofs on me because I claim to be Latino. He's got a point, I guess, because (a) I don't speak Spanish (well), (b) I look like a white boy, and (c) his wife, my mother, is about as northern European as Americans come -- her parents both immigrated to the States from Norway. While I root for Norway in the Winter Olympics and my in-laws all call my son "Viking Baby," my surname's Del Rio. I have close relationships with my abuelo, three sets of aunts and uncles, and seven first cousins who live in Puerto Rico, plus I've met dozens of extended family there. In contrast, I've never met most of my relatives from Norway. I've always felt most at home in a predominantly Nuyorican neighborhood. And my closest friends are Latino. I love the fact that I even get to have this debate about my ethnicity. Is there anywhere else but America where I could father a child who is equal parts Puerto Rican, Norwegian, Irish, and Italian and who will probably marry a Carib-Afro-Asian-Latina? What a great country. It's a shame, though, that race-baiters and ethnocentrists try to incite divisions where they need not exist. Thank God for RC and others who are fighting back.

What Language is American?

Saturday evening I was bouncing back and forth between the Michael Jackson special (see post above) on VH1 and a PBS documentary called "Do You Speak American?" The documentary explored American dialects from Boston to El Paso and Nashville to LA and asked fundamental questions about language, identity, and cultural norms and expectations. On Sunday after church, our family ate at a local diner where the customers at the next table spoke hardcore "Brooklyn." It was funny to hear Di and her grandmother discuss the very same themes as the documentary having not watched it the night before. But in a multicultural nation like ours, they're real. And challenging.

Nominate Rudy and ...

your favorite evangelical bloggers for the 1st Annual Evangelical Blog Awards.

Congratulations, Iraq

Iraqi citizens defied terrorists yesterday as they waited in lines and proudly showed off their ink-stained fingers proving that they had voted. Nine suicide bombers killed 35, and mortar rounds injured others, but upwards of 8 million Iraqis braved the insurgency to embrace democracy and freedom for the first time in their nation's history. Yesterday's historic election was just the start. Now the hard work of creating a constitution and crafting a government that will uphold freedom actually begins. Congratulations! You're in our prayers.

"I Love This, I Love This"

So screamed Judah after sleigh-riding down Owl's Head hill last night. The shear delight of his little voice combined with the excitement in his eyes makes fatherhood the greatest joy in the world. Unfortunately, two runs later Judah plowed into another little guy about his age and felt embarassed -- not to mention afraid and slightly achy -- and it was time to go home. The crash wasn't his fault. A group of 7 or 8 boys felt the need to walk uphill shoulder to shoulder rather than single file just as he began his descent. Despite his cries of "Look out below," the youngest of the bunch either didn't hear him or froze in terror as Judah's sled approached. Hence the accident. No one was hurt, but it was scary enough for a novice sledder to call it a night. We'll try again later this week or next week when we visit Judah's cousins in Massachusetts.

Underwater Aliens

My son asked yesterday if we can go to the aquarium this summer. "Of course," I said, but I'm also showing him a preview online atTime's Aliens of the Deep. God has such a sense of humor. Could he have created animals to look any more bizarre than these?

Thursday, January 27, 2005

"This is a nontraditional course."

So begins the course description for the Urban Community Development class I'm teaching this semester at Alliance Theological Seminary. It continues: "Equal parts graduate seminar, academic laboratory, and clinical practicum, our overriding goal will be to understand and apply strategic leadership principles in a real-world, urban community development context. While exploring the evolution of community development as an industry, including top-down public policy approaches and bottom-up, community-based strategies, the class will simultaneously 'learn by doing.' That is, we will work as the strategic planning group of a start-up community development corporation (the 'Corporation'), conceiving the Corporation’s vision, mission, and values, and creating the relevant documents to launch the Corporation at the end of the semester...." Two weeks into it and I'm already having fun.

Resolving Church Conflict

I mentioned in an earlier post a court hearing that got postponed pending court-appointed mediation. We had our first session two weeks ago and the second session will be tomorrow. Please keep us in your prayers. For more on the nature of the overall litigation, check out the New York Daily News coverage here.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

If My People Will Humble Themselves and Pray

"If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land." I love that verse (II Chronicles 7:14), but it's quoted so often it almost sounds trite. Then I go to the annual Pastors Prayer Summit sponsored by Concerts of Prayer Greater New York and remember that our cliche is God's truth. There's depth and power in those words. The last couple of days we reflected on Psalm 63, which David wrote while running from his son Absalom in the desert of Judah ("worship"). Read it. It's good. One comical sidebar from the Summit. The house where I stayed was appx 3 miles from the retreat center (Tuscarora Inn at Pennsylvania's Delaware Water Gap). Last night Adam Durso of Youth Explosion and I dropped of my parents at the house and left to return to the main campus. We were spending time together trying to figure out how to revolutionize the world, when we made a wrong turn and got lost. A drive that should have taken no more than 10 minutes took over an hour. We finally found it after stumbling upon a bar in a random country village. One of the patrons leaving the bar (with empty bear bottles on the counter) offered to guide us back. Said he was going that way. There are so many spiritual metaphors in our humbling little journey that it's scary.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Unconditional Compassion - the Only Kind that Counts

"Despite the media attention to the tsunami in South Asia, it still barely registers with many people that the country hit hardest happens to be the world’s most populous Islamic nation. Indonesia has lost more than 105,000 people, most of them Muslims. That tragic fact shines a light on a bracing yet neglected possibility: that the charitable tradition of the United States, supremely visible in its Christian relief organizations, could help change the course of Muslim-Christian relations. "Arab television stations such as Al Jezeerah may never admit it, but the truth is that America’s private sector alone almost certainly will offer more help -- in dollars, material assistance and manpower -- than the entire Muslim world combined." From The Reach of Charity, by Joseph Loconte (January 18, 2005)
An unprecedented opportunity to demonstrate global compassion, indeed.

Lessons in Democracy ... From Iraq?

"An International Republican Institute poll conducted from December 26, 2004 to January 7, 2005 shows that anticipated participation numbers among Iraqis remain consistent with over 80 percent stating that they are very likely or somewhat likely to vote on January 30. It also shows that Iraqis remain optimistic about the future of their country as they anticipate their first post-Saddam democratic elections on January 30." From Iraqis Remain Committed to Elections, International Republican Institute, January 20, 2004.
For Sunday's elections in Iraq, projections anticipate a likely voter turnout of 80%? Even after months of insurgency and terrorist attacks? Contrast that with the 60% turnout in our own U.S. of A. this past November, the best turnout since 1968. For more on the subject of voting, check out Wake Up from Slumber: Civic Hypocrisy and Voter Dysfunction.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Inaugural Quotables

"We cannot carry the message of freedom and the baggage of bigotry at the same time." "You have seen duty and allegiance in the determined faces of our soldiers. You have seen that life is fragile, and evil is real, and courage triumphs. Make the choice to serve in a cause larger than your wants, larger than yourself — and in your days you will add not just to the wealth of our country, but to its character." "We felt the unity and fellowship of our nation when freedom came under attack, and our response came like a single hand over a single heart. And we can feel that same unity and pride whenever America acts for good, and the victims of disaster are given hope, and the unjust encounter justice, and the captives are set free." "In a world moving toward liberty, we are determined to show the meaning and promise of liberty. No one is fit to be a master and no one deserves to be a slave." "The United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you." "America, in this young century, proclaims liberty throughout all the world, and to all the inhabitants thereof. Renewed in our strength, tested but not weary, we are ready for the greatest achievements in the history of freedom." Watch the President's Inaugural Address.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Out of the Mouths of Babes

This is not a joke. When my son showed it to me this evening, I was blown away. You may recall that Judah turned 4 earlier this month. Four. That makes him three weeks older than three. A few months back Judah got obsessed with spelling words. He wanted to know how to spell just about everything he could think of. Of course he couldn't do much with the spellings, he was just fascinated by letters and how they fit together to form words. Soon after he discovered the power of written communication. He dictated two letters for me to send to his cousins in Massachusetts and has made this an occasional demand of his parents ever since then. Today he decided he wanted to write a letter to grandpa. So he asked mom to help him, and he began to tell her what to write. The following is a verbatim transcript of what he said. Diana swears she didn't prompt this, and I have no reason to doubt her. Especially enjoy the four-year-old prose.

"Jesus was put on the cross. Jesus rose from the dead. Jesus stopped the storm on the ship. Jesus' body was gone from the tomb. Jesus blessed the little boy's food. "Jesus loves us. Jesus takes care of us. He wants us to love each other. "He wants us to pray every day. We go to church and praise God. He wants us to tell others about him. "God made everything. Mary had a son that the angel told to name him Jesus. Jesus is God. How could Jesus be God? "Jesus made Judah and other people too. "Jesus gave us food and restaurants."
Could it be any clearer? Thank God for restaurants. Judah wanted to sign off this message. Here goes: mjiop0-=ty6576890-=;mnbhgju

The Bar's Been Raised

In light of Monday's MLK commemoratives (see posts from 1/17) and today's inauguration, it's worth noting that, "With little fanfare and not much credit, President Bush has appointed a more diverse set of top advisers than any president in history" (from "Bush is opening doors with a diverse Cabinet," USA Today, 12/09/04). Even Democratic strategists and Bush foes like Donna Brazile, Al Gore's campaign manager in 2000, "credits Bush with instinctively believing that surrounding himself with able women and people of color helps him make better decisions — a lesson she says some Democratic officeholders and candidates have yet to absorb." George Bush is the first and only President to appoint a person of color to any of the four most prestigious Cabinet jobs — at the departments of State, Treasury, Defense and Justice. He has named two African-Americans as secretary of State and a Mexican-American as attorney general. Let's hope this historic achievement sets a new standard for normal.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Things We Don't Talk About

Eric's story is far more common than we care to admit. One in three girls and one in six boys are sexually abused in childhood, and twenty percent of women have had at least one incestuous experience before 18. Given these and other realities, what happens when God answers our prayers and His word, sharper than a two-edged sword, cuts deep to expose the cancers of life? For starters, it gets uncomfortable. Many in our pews and pulpits cannot stomach the gore of the surgeon's scalpel. Many cannot fathom the prolonged recovery time, or extend grace when the affects of emotional chemo cause ugly side issues to surface.

From Things We Don't Talk About, Jeremy's latest article. Please read it in its entirety before posting any comments.

Special thanks to Eric Gorman for allowing me to share his story. Visit Eric Gorman Ministries online here.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Will the Real Men Please Stand Up?

My last shout-out of the evening in honor of MLK comes from the son of a civil rights radical, who ironically suffered a similar fate as Dr. King (although for apparently different reasons). The late Tupac Shakur, son of Afeni Shakur of the Black Panther Party, grew up never knowing his father. According to his mother's website 2PacLegacy, "the issue of his father tormented him," causing Tupac to feel "unmanly." This torment helped inspire one of Tupac's most enduring singles, Keep Ya Head Up, which includes an unwavering challenge to men to be more than sires.

I wonder why we take from our women Why we rape our women, do we hate our women? I think it's time to kill for our women Time to heal our women, be real to our women And if we don't we'll have a race of babies That will hate the ladies, that make the babies And since a man can't make one He has no right to tell a woman when and where to create one So will the real men get up I know you're fed up ladies, but keep your head up - From Keep Ya Head Up. Read full lyrics here.
In order for Dr. King's dream to become reality in our inner cities, more men must "get up" and do right by their kids and the women who birth them. And more men who may not be birth fathers yet exert influence over fatherless children, should embrace the privilege honorably. For more on this subject, check out Fight of the Fatherless.

In Memory of a Hero

Another year, another excuse to play. For many that's all the third Monday of January represents. A day off. A break from everyday. An opportunity to sleep late, skip school without punishment, run errands, shop, whatever. But this day is much more than that. It reminds us each year of a modern prophet, a proclaimer of truth, whose anointing changed the world. For today the nation pauses to acknowledge the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., through whom the courage of conviction, tenacity of spirit, and supreme sacrifice of life itself, offered these United States of America the option of an alternative reality. One where people would be judged not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. Where little black boys and little white girls could play side-by-side without fear of reprisals. Hardly perfect, Dr. King nonetheless modeled a kind of selfless determination that empowered a generation of Americans to stare down the injustices of Jim Crow racism and fight to overturn legalized oppression. Thanks, Dr. King, for the gift of your life. This year, I pray that the nation joins me in remembering a hero whose legacy in death continues to bring forth life.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Losing Races: a Dream Deferred

In honor of the Dr. Martin Luther King holiday, I wanted to excerpt Losing Races: A Dream Deferred on my blog. It tells of an experience I had in 2003 at a conference sponsored by one of America's foremost evangelical ministries. Sadly, I endured many similar experiences in 2004. Please consider reading the piece in its entirety before posting a comment.

Forty years ago, a prophet issued a clarion call to the nation. Decades later, his dream that one day we would be judged not by the color of our skin but by the content of our character, was deferred for all but two African Americans, two Hispanics, and several women at the gathering of evangelical leaders. It is similarly deferred every day in the boardrooms and executive offices of many national ministries and on the airwaves of top-rated evangelical media. Some of the most prominent evangelicals fail to engage subjects of race, economic and social justice, and related issues every chance they get. Then they wonder why "colored folk" (a phrase not often uttered but a lingering attitude frequently communicated) don't attend their events or embrace their causes.... I had the opportunity to discuss my conflict - on the one hand personally benefiting from the conference but on the other, discomfort with the lily-whiteness of it all - with the ministry's vice president. He acknowledged the racial imbalance by blame shifting: blacks and Latinos don't respond when invited. My discomfort he attributed to being from New York. Does that mean that attendees from the Bible Belt were fine with it?

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Dobson, Is This a Good Thing?

[James] Dobson, perhaps more than anyone, will be most credible in leveraging evangelical power at the voting booth. That's partly because, politics aside, he's unrivaled as an evangelical leader. "Given Billy Graham's advanced age," says Richard Land, president of the 16 million-strong Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, "it's James Dobson who's stepped in to fill the void." Unlike Graham, though, Dobson's not a preacher....

Dobson has never been so baldly political. Before the election, he stepped down from the presidency of Focus [on the Family] (he's still chairman) to launch Focus on the Family Action, a fundraising and grass-roots organizing engine free of the political spending limits imposed on the nonprofit Focus. The move allowed Dobson to make his first presidential endorsement (for President Bush), to write to hundreds of thousands of Focus constituents in states with tight Senate races with political advice, and to appear in ads to unseat then Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle in South Dakota. Last fall, Dobson hosted huge "stand for family" rallies--widely seen as supportive of Republican candidates--in close Senate race states, while Focus helped distribute an eye-popping 8 million voting guides. "I can't think of anybody who had more impact than Dr. Dobson" on social conservatives this election, says Richard Viguerie, the GOP direct-mail pioneer. "He was the 800-pound gorilla."

From "The Dobson way: An evangelical leader steps squarely into the political ring," by Dan Gilgoff in US News and World Report (1/17/05)


Note from January 16: Apparently other folks are struggling with this. Check out this blog for Chuck Colson comments, as well as a few from ordinary evangelicals like you and me.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

How to Infuriate Anti-Faith Folks

Say the following when you're President of the United States:

"I fully understand that the job of the president is and must always be protecting the great right of people to worship or not worship as they see fit," Mr. Bush said. "That's what distinguishes us from the Taliban. The greatest freedom we have or one of the greatest freedoms is the right to worship the way you see fit.

"On the other hand, I don't see how you can be president at least from my perspective, how you can be president, without a relationship with the Lord," he said.

From "President outlines role of his faith" by James G. Lakely in THE WASHINGTON TIMES (1/12/05)

Monday, January 10, 2005

Was it Legit?

So I make this New Year's Resolution about finding allies in unexpected places. Sounds nice. Makes for a fun post to write. Little did I know that less than a week later I'd be forced to practice what I preach in a meaningful way at a critical time. You may recall, our flagship Xcel After School is in transition. After four years, on December 17, we promoted our site director Enid Almanzar to a national position with the American Bible Society as a project manager for their Urban Youth Initiative. Simultaneously, we welcomed back to the fold (after completing Nyack College) returning hero and Xcel cofounder Luis Velez to replace her. Only Luis wasn't the right man for the position. It turns out Luis made a decision to return to Xcel even though part of him believed the timing was off for him to return to the City, out of his loyalty to the organization and children we serve. This internal conflict meant that the first couple days last week were emotionally exhausting. Luis' dilemma: do what's right and pursue the call of God on his life or stay in a position that he prematurely accepted. How to proceed? Thankfully, Luis pursued authentic comunity. On Thursday last he shared his situation, but not before introducing me to a friend from school, Rafael Santiago. Turns out Rafael is a great candidate for the position, with relevant schooling and seven years experience, and an extraordinary testimony of an inner city kid who overcame incredible adversity to boot. We hired Rafael on Friday and launched the program yesterday. We also hired Kristina Diaz as a program assistant. Kristina was in my youth group for several years before moving to Seattle for a ministry internship for a year and a haf. She came back to NYC last spring and began working at Xcel yesterday! Pray for us, and more importantly the kids, as we continue the journey with an unexpected ally.

This is Old News, But I Blame Kruse

Had I had a blog in October, I would have written then about the little known man most singularly responsible for reversing the Curse of the Bambino and lifting the Red Sox out of their 86-year misery: Matthew Kruse. With the Sox down 0-3 in the ALCS to the Yankees, Matt preached "The Red Sox Sermon" at his "culturally relevant" church plant in Malden, MA, a Boston suburb. Later that evening, the impossible happened as the Sox tied the game against the fiercest closer in MLB history and went on to win in extra innings. They didn't lose again and won their first World Series since 1918. Funny Kruse didn't get more credit (blame!) in the mainstream press, but at least one local newspaper saw the correlation.

The Boden Center

The Bronx got a little touch of heaven his weekend. The Boden Center for Performing Arts officially launched in Castle Hill with a concert Friday evening (1/7) featuring jazzy reinterpretations of age-old standards, musical theater by a youth drama troupe called BAMSS (By Any Means Save Some), and modern dance performed by members of the acclaimed Alvin Ailey Dance Company. An outreach of Crossroads Tabernacle, the Boden Center promises to be on the cutting edge of arts education and culture for many years to come. Read the Tri-State Voice's account of the opening.

Tossin' and Turnin'

It's after midnight and I can't sleep, even though I have an early morning meeting in midtown tomorrow followed by a really long day. I'm trying to make sense of it all -- not a smart thing to do in bed, especially when "it" includes everything that it includes. I can think, process, evaluate, assess, and pray without getting through it all before sunrise. So why bother? I guess that's why Jesus said:

So do not worry, saying, "What shall we eat?" or "What shall we drink?" or "What shall we wear?" For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:31-34)
Tomorrow will certainly have enough trouble of it's own, so I might as well try to enjoy a few minutes of solitude bloggin' (are solitude and bloggin' compatible?) tonight, before tomorrow officially begins.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Rudy's now a supremo blogger

Rudy Carrasco, as dedicated a blogger as any at Urban Onramps and the pressure point for me to join the blogosphere, was asked by Christianity Today to assemble a tsunami relief blog this week. Congratulations, Rudy!

Happy New Year?

What a first week for 2005. It started well, with Monday's court hearing postponed to January 18. (More on that in a future post). But the intensity ratcheted up quickly. It's now Friday and I feel like I've been dodging organizational bullets all week. But we've made it through, by God's unwavering grace! Here's to hoping this weekend is a little less stressful.

Monday, January 03, 2005

2004's Xcel Top Ten

[Sorry, these are not funny. Nor are they listed in any particular order. For more on Generation Xcel, visit here.] 1. Replicating "by youth for youth" as ten teens co-founded Xpress, our second after school program in Manhattan's Lower East Side. 2. Graduating the inaugural class of 18 XL Service Corps members from Boot Camp, and watching 17 of them stick around to volunteer 20 hours a week over 7 weeks in July and August. 3. Registering 168 teens who volunteered over 6,000 hours of community service and random acts of kindness in three cities during Chain Reaction weeks of compassion. 4. Producing four original stage events and an awards banquet in twelve months, and watching the richness and depth of material grow with our students each time. Visit links for pictures (some events have multiple albums; all pictures courtesy Michael Mowery):

Life in Translation (Dec 2004) Celebration of Xcellence (June 2004) interSECTIONS (May 2004) Voice of Silence (March 2004) (photos unavailable) Holiday xPressions (Dec. 2003)
5. Producing a music video, short film, PSA, and two viniettes during the first 12 months of our Xpress Film Project. Download Family Portrait music video here. 6. Creating new logos and brand identity with the help of Jason Bowman of Hopeful Productions. 7. Writing six original songs in the first 12 months of our music production class; recording 3 in studio; and performing all six for live audiences, including a night at the Bowery Poetry Club. 8. Graduating two more Xcel co-founders from college: Mei-Ling from NYU's nursing program and Luis from Nyack College with a degree in history. 9. Adding seven new board members, including Youth Delegates Kevin Cedeno and Lorreal Torres. 10. Meeting new friends and establishing new relationships in Texas, California, North Dakota, Kansas, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, Virginia, DC, Maryland, Massachusetts, Colorado, Minnesota, Arkansas, New Jersey, New York, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Oregon.

Even the NY Times Gets It

Some of evangelical Christianity's most respected leaders still don't believe Hip Hop can be a viable expression of worship or a legitimate means of outreach. They are not paying attention. The effectiveness of anointed Hip Hop to change lives has been duly noted by, among others, the New York Times (yes, that Times), which visited Xcel board member, and dear friend, Adam Durso's youth ministry last fall. Download the article here. More on Youth Explosion here.

A Hero in Thailand: The YW8? (Why Wait?) Generation

Saturday's New York Post published an inspiring article about a 10 year old vacationer-turned-hero during the tsunami in Phuket, Thailand.

January 1, 2005 -- PHUKET, Thailand - Quick-thinking 10-year-old Tilly Smith is being hailed as a hero after saving her parents and dozens of fellow vacationers from the deadly tsunami - thanks to a school geography lesson.

Tilly warned the doubting adults at a resort that a massive tidal wave was about to strike - just minutes before the deadly tide rushed in and turned the resort into rubble. Tilly's family, from Surrey, England, was enjoying a day at Maikhao Beach last Sunday when the sea rushed out and began to bubble. The adults were curious, but Tilly froze in horror.

"Mummy, we must get off the beach now!" she told her mother. "I think there's going to be a tsunami." The adults didn't understand until Tilly added the magic words: "A tidal wave."

Her warning spread like wildfire. Within seconds, the beach was deserted — and it turned out to be one of the only places along the shores of Phuket where no one was killed or seriously injured. ...

Our kids have something to say. Let's listen. For more on how to engage the YW8? (Why Wait?) Generation, go here.

I Promised Pictures

Dapper Judah, working the room. Check out more pictures by clicking the image. (All pictures by Michael Mowery.)

_K3I4182 Originally uploaded by Genxcel.

Please Join Judah in Praying for Sam

My son Judah has been praying for four year old Samuel Carrasco since he was diagnosed with leukemia this summer. Sam will begin his third round of aggressive chemotherapy later this week. Please join Judah in praying for him and the family. More on Sam here.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

New Year's Resolution

Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved. (Matthew 9:17)
This year I resolve to find friends and allies in unexpected places. This is no rocket science resolution, just a lesson inspired by a usual suspect. Jesus chose "unlearned, uneducated men" as companions through whom to fulfill his mission. Himself a blue collar son of an unwed mother, born in a barn, raised in a ghetto, and a political refugee at the age of 2, Jesus knew firsthand that good things come in unpredictable packages. So he chose a tax collector, fishermen, political dissidents and other unlikely men as colleagues. Collectively they changed the world. His methodology paralleled his eartly predecessor. King David, at the time a fugitive, found his "mighty men" (II Sam 23:8) while hiding at the Cave of Adullam, where "all those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him." (I Sam 22:2) No elitist pretensions there, just authentic brokenness. That band of 400 brothers changed Israel's political and military history forever. If the goal is revival, reformation, revolution, transformation (pick your word) -- that is, if you aspire to be part of something historical -- tradition and predictability are most helpful as guides where not to go. What not to do. If you've "been there, done that," it's not historical! That's not to say the lessons of history are irrelevant. Properly interpreted and understood, history reveals ideas and principles -- Truth -- that set men free. But ideas are not methods. Principles are not structures. Truth must be aplied, contextualized, in order to transform. The overriding idea in Jesus' ministry methods was the value of a small group of people, properly taught and mentored ("discipled," for the religious among us) to exemplify and communicate Truth beyond the constraints of space and time. That's why I resolve to invest my life in people, wherever God helps me find them. Even if they look different, talk different, walk different, or act different.
p.s. I found some interesting characters among the 2004-2005 class at the Billy Graham Institute for Emerging Evangelists. We had a bull rider from Wyoming; a bear hunter from the Carolinas; a retired football player born Jehovah's Witness who attended a Mormon college and got saved by the "Naked Preacher," a teammate wearing a bath towel, in an NFL locker room; a former rock and roll musician; a North Dakotan farmboy; an aerospace engineer turned web developing Brit who plays guitar and leads worship beautifully; and lots of other eclectic people who love God and are passionately committed to seeing history made in our generation. I guess I got a head start on my New Year's resolution!