Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Guatemalan Ministry Brings Life and Hope

During my trip to Guatemala earlier this month, I had the opportunity to visit the Tabitha Ministry in Guatemala City. I have known about Tabitha for years since Churchnet helps support it, but I enjoyed finally getting to see it myself. Ethics Daily ran an article today I wrote about Tabitha, its ministries, and its neighborhood. The piece is titled "Guatemalan Ministry Brings Life and Hope," and a photo I took of the nearby city cemetery ran with the article. This is an amazing ministry, so I hope you will read the article.

Shortly after I returned from Guatemala, news broke that the richest 1 percent of people in the world will soon own half of the world's wealth. And the richest 85 people have as much as the poorest 3.5 billion people. This is a serious problem that leads to the scenes I describe in today's article: people living in a cemetery or spending every day scavenging through a city dump. The grotesquely rich few are creating hells on earth for large populations of people. The prophets of old were not quiet in face of inequality and oppression. We must not be quiet about it either.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Guatemalan Baptists Train for Transforming Ministry

Earlier this month, I traveled to Guatemala. Although I enjoyed the trip immensely (especially the tasty food and beautiful landscape of mountains and volcanoes), my primary goal was not entertainment. Instead, I hoped to help my Guatemalan Baptist brothers and sisters by sharing some lessons I've learned as a student, scholar, teacher, and practitioner of communication concepts and skills.

The conference for Guatemalan Baptist pastors and church leaders occurs twice a year as part of a partnership Churchnet has with Guatemalan Baptists. I spoke on the topics of "Communication as Foundational," "Sermon Delivery," and "Using Social Media." The sessions went well and sparked some interesting question-and-answer times. While many pastors better trained in theology and ministry than me have previously led many sessions, I was thankful for the opportunity to offer my own area of expertise.

I also went in hopes of helping share some stories of Guatemalan Baptists with Christians in the United States. Since it's important we see the Kingdom as transcending arbitrary national borders, we need to learn about the faith of those in other contexts. Ethics Daily ran a piece today that comes as part of my effort to tell about what I saw and heard. The article is titled "Guatemalan Baptists Train for Transforming Ministry." The photo above that I took in Quetzaltenango ran with the article.

Today's article includes comments from my Churchnet colleague and friend Gary Snowden, who has been to Guatemala numerous times. Snowden also created a Spanish version of the article to share with people in Guatemala and elsewhere. Also featured in today's article is Otto Echeverria, president of the Convención de Iglesias Bautista de Guatemala (Convention of Baptist Churches in Guatemala). You can also watch a video I shot of Echeverria (that was edited by my Ethics Daily colleague and friend Cliff Vaughn). I look forward to sharing more stories soon at both Ethics Daily and Churchnet.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Otto Echeverria on Guatemalan Baptists

Ethics Daily posted a short video called "Otto Echeverria on Guatemalan Baptists." I shot the footage of Echeverria, president of Convention of Baptist Churches in Guatemala, during my recent trip to his country. He talks about Baptists in the country, their struggles, and their growing work. Echeverria is a engaged, thoughtful pastor who is doing a great job leading Guatemalan Baptists.  Cliff Vaughn of Ethics Daily edited the video nicely. Check it out!

Otto Echeverria on Guatemalan Baptists from EthicsDaily on Vimeo.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Obama Attempts to Turn Page to "Better Politics"

On Tuesday night, President Barack Obama waltzed down the aisle of the House of Representatives as members of the House and Senate reached out to shake his hand. Robed members of the Supreme Court also appeared, along with many other governmental officials. The annual State of the Union address provides one of the U.S.'s main moments of political pomp and circumstance. This speech was no different, with both sides allowing partisanship to impact their responses. Democrats applauded and stood so often they didn't need to do their exercise routines for the day. Republicans, as the opposition party, instead attempted to sit so still their legs might have gone numb. Since Speaker John Boehner had to sit behind Obama - and thus in view on televisions - he had to work especially hard to not seem interested in the president's message. Hollywood faces stiff competition as the top acting city, especially after actor-turned-president Ronald Reagan transformed the way presidents deliver State of the Union addresses.

Ethics Daily ran my latest article today, which covers key themes from Obama's State of the Union speech this year. The piece is titled "Obama Attempts to Turn Page to 'Better Politics.'" I note the few times Obama invoked religious themes, and the even less-religious official Republican response. I also focus on his theme of trying to create "better politics," a vision faith leaders could help bring about in our overly-partisan and divided political atmosphere.