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Aug 19, 2014

I am off to North Africa here soon. Only a few years back I would have never conceived of such a thing – but this hasn't completely completely come out of thin air. As I was growing up, there was a Christian bracelet fad, suddenly it seemed everyone (even guys!) wore a bracelet that said WWJD. It was supposed to help you remember that you should make your decisions based on what you thought Jesus would do, which admittedly isn't a bad place to start, but it overly simplifies the concept of living “in the Spirit.” And of course it didn't take long for the bracelets to become cliché and a bit of a joke...But as the Church is the incarnate body of Christ, that question (or at least some variation of it) should never be far from our hearts. What Would Jesus Have Us (His current physical body) Do? What Would Jesus Have His Tiny Little Pinky Toe (me) Do?

Oct 17, 2013

Sara is 33 years old, born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She comes with a history of having been on the margins of society. Now she is wanting to serve those in that general situation.
 
Growing up, my family offered too much freedom. My parents were hard-working Italian immigrants, and tried to be good in many ways, but the emotional resources were few. By the time I was a teenager, I was spending most of my time with older kids, and doing many things I shouldn't have been. I experimented a lot with drugs and alcohol, and lived a life of rebellion, often not living at home.
 
I first saw Jesus in my classmate, now friend, Magali. It was not her kind words, but her acts of tangible love that got my attention. We had our first conversations in my worst years. She told me that if I ever needed anything, I should call...and I knew it was true. An example of this: one night at 3 a.m. I was locked up in a police station. I had my one call, so I called called someone I felt I could trust, Magali. I did not even talk to her directly. I arrived at her home at 4 a.m., but she opened the door as if it was the middle of the afternoon. She showed me to a bed, and treated me like a human being. We weren't even friends then, just classmates. I had to ask if it was true that would God love me like Magali was exemplifying. She was humility and perseverance to me, and very radically loved being with me, not just in the good but especially in the bad, and without pressure or manipulation to follow Jesus… just lots of love.

Sep 12, 2013

There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.
-Henry David Thoreau
 
Sometimes business in urban poor settings is an exercise in futility, especially if the proper spiritual and ethical considerations are not thought through. Many of these entrepreneurial programs have skipped the most important elements of a healthy business: ethics. Just as with Wall Street, large corporations and government investment, we can teach the poor business tools, but without a strong ethical foundation, crashes and pain are bound to come.
 
In Servant Partners we are exploring a range of ethics courses so that when we teach about business, we don’t leave out the crucial ethical aspects. More specifically, biblical ethics. One ironic lesson learned in these past years comes from our work in North Africa. This is a region where it’s either illegal or culturally inappropriate to speak “Christianese” or to use too many Biblical references. While this may seem like a handicap on some levels, on others it has forced us to learn how to explain Jesus’s ethics without using the “trump card” of scripture. In other words, we have been forced to explain much of the teachings of Jesus without quoting him directly. And the amazing thing is that Jesus’s words stand on their own. They don’t need the authority of his name to have enormous power. And when people want to know more, we are happy to explain what the true source is; then Jesus is explained naturally, and has already proved his power.

Sep 20, 2012

It is the rainy season here in North Africa. The much-needed drops fall graciously to the earth but are not received easily. The hardened ground refuses to soak in this gift, and pools of water barricade the many unpaved roads around the city. In my former neighborhood, the wide road that separates people's homes from the main thoroughfare, has been replaced by a lake of murky water. Residents walk cautiously, single-file, on the only piece of high ground on the north edge of the new bog. Roads are not the only thing affected by the rains. My friend's home lost a wall, as the rain proved stronger than the bricks made of mud and hay.


Apr 5, 2012

Everyday, as I come and go from class, I see a scraggly man in his early twenties. He sits outside the entryway to my school with unkempt hair, wearing the same disheveled blue button-up shirt and ripped pants. Sometimes he is sleeping on a flattened cardboard box. Sometimes he is sitting in the shade, with his back against the wall. Sometimes he is chewing on an old rag. If he is awake when I pass by, his arm springs up, signaling to me that he wants me to give him something. My gut reaction to this impoverished man is revulsion. He is an inconvenience and an eye-soar. I want him to find somewhere else to sit…somewhere else to live….somewhere else to be. Then God whispers in my ear that this man is Lazarus—the beggar covered in sores who sits outside the rich person’s gate (from the parable in Luke 16).

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