My next missionary book is Salvador Witness.
We have to have a far more nuanced understanding of poverty. It is a terrible tragedy to see the world powers reading as communism what is in fact nothing more than the cry of the poor for justice.
If the free West really wants to contain communism worldwide, then it must attack injustice. If the West were to declare war on poverty and eliminate poverty, communism would be dead, because no on would believe it.
Christ dealt with it in very simple terms. He said, you behave equally to all men for my sake. And he said the truth will make people free. But you see, people don’t like the truth, especially when it is a demanding truth, when it demands reform and it demands a redistribution of wealth. (Father Crowley, pg 51)
Soon, the Bible and the Gospel won’t be allowed to cross our borders. We will get only the bindings, because all of the pages are subversive. And I think that if Jesus himself came across the border at Chalatenango, they would not let him in. They would accuse the Man-God, the prototype of man, of being a rabble-rouser, a foreign Jew, one who confused the people with exotic and foreign ideas, ideas against democracy – that is, against the wealthy minority… Brothers and sisters, there is no doubt, they would crucify him again. (Father Rutilio Grande, in last mass before his martyrdom, pg 88)
[Y]ou can contribute a lot and make a big difference in the world if you realize that the world you’re talking about might be very small – maybe one person, or two people[.] (pg 96)
She became aware that the very people she had come all this way to help – the illiterate farm workers and their families, surviving day to day in their bone-poor, uncluttered houses – had something that she wanted…. She began to discover that life as it was lived by the Salvadoran poor was more real, more humane,… [they] depended for their very existence upon each other. (pg 106)
The persecution of the Church is a result of defending the poor…If all this has happened to the Church, you can guess what has happened to the ordinary Christian people…As always it has been the poor among us who have suffered most… our persecution is nothing more than sharing in the destiny of the poor. (Oscar Arnulfo Romero, pg 117 (rearranged))
My first missionary biography read was Prisoners of Hope.
What I learned:
In reading the experience of 2 women’s experience being imprisoned for sharing their hope in Afghanistan, I was able to compare and contrast their methods and reactions.
Heather, the younger of the 2, with less experience in the culture and a shorter planned commitment, reacted most like I think I would… meaning, we share character flaws. She alienated herself from the 5 Christian women imprisoned with her sometimes, she dwelled on her fears, she placed her home in rescue by America – I do not want to sound like I am criticizing her. I can’t imagine living through this experience. I just want to learn from her, so if I am ever there, I will able to make choices, rather than just default in my weaknesses.
Dayna, who had a 3 year commitment, seemed to know how to draw strength from disciplined reading of the Bible. She seemed to be able to step outside the fear about not choosing to be in the prison, and follow Paul’s example in seeing the opportunity that she had to ministry to women that she wouldn’t have had access to otherwise. She seemed to be logical about weighing out the fact that she had chosen to come there, intended to be there, and nothing about that needed to be altered for her to minister hope.
I also learned about the political system of a country in chaos. I was surprised to see that they were visited by their family, yet still imprisoned. I realized that I assumed if I could see people who cared for me, I would assume they had the power to rescue me. I think this is a good thing to process – if I am ever imprisoned, I want to be able to thank the Lord if I see my loved one, without putting all my hope in them.
So, I just returned late last night from a tiring weekend at Displace Me in Austin.
I would write a narrative of my experience, but fortunately, a Houston Chronicle reporter ended up camping out with Jessica and I, and his writing is much better than mine!
Displace Me: 5:23 p.m. and in a hot box
Invisible Children is this organization trying to help children who have been displaced because of war. They’re putting together an event called Displace Me in which participants leave their homes for a day to live in a cardboard box.
Right now, I’m in Austin, where the sun is hot and people have been arriving since about 3 in the afternoon. The field is strewn with huts made from cardboard boxes that people have been building all day. Not one looks the same; some are as big as tents, others are like round fortresses; some have windows and vented roofs. I guess what it says is that even faced with the most basic of tools, humans always make the most of it.
I’m crashing with Heather Bordeaux, a 29-year-old former architecture student from Houston. She has built one of the most impressive box homes in the field. Bordeaux is here, she says, because “people need to take action; because we are the most powerful country in the world.”
I had my doubts about something this. How can you possibly simulate a displacement camp when the nearest threat of war is thousands of miles away in Iraq? But it’s 5:23 as I write this, two hours into it, and the sun is pounding. My mouth is dry. Before each participant came in, they turned in their water and saltine crackers. In a displacement camp, refugees are only allowed rations. Same here. Participants won’t get water ’til after six.
And you can go see pictures at my Flickr.