Thursday night I managed to stay up until 11:00 pm and slept until 6:00 am. I let myself believe that maybe the jet lag thing wasn't going to be a problem. Well, it's now 2:00 am and here I am talking with you.
Maybe I can knock off one of the zillion books I'm reading right now...
Well, this is the first time I've been able to get full Typepad functionality since leaving two weeks ago.
So... what will we talk about?
I'm sitting in Heathrow's Terminal 3, waiting for my flight to Vancouver. The 7 hour layover in Nairobi was a bit of a drag, but I had some fiends with me for some of it. It was kind of like the last Seinfeld episode: We shook hands, Fuzz left for Cairo, Marcel and Jeff went to Amsterdam, and I headed for London.
Here's a little randomness for you. At the very least Robert and David will like this. I was walking through the airport in Nairobi last Sunday, deep in thought, when I looked up to see our hero Stephen Lewis heading for me. I followed the guy for 15 minutes but he had his cell phone glued to his head the whole time and I didn't get to speak to him. We'll call that one a Close Encounter.
Speaking of Canadian heroes, I had quite a conversation with my taxi driver Mohammed the other night in Kigali. On Romeo Dallaire in 1994, "That guy tried his very best! He is a great man!" Romeo, Mohammed was asking after you and wishes you well.
I met a ton of great people, heard some terrific stories and some horrific ones, and visited the 3rd poorest country on the planet (Burundi). The clock has started ticking on the processing of all this.
I'll get back to you. It's nice to be back on the blog.
I arrived here about 8:30 this morning after a marathon trip (saw a couple of Thompson Gazelle on the road in), and I'm spending the day hanging out with Baptists. (It's nice of them to take me under their wings!) I'll be up early tomorrow and back to the airport for the flight to Rwanda. Other than the familiar bag-over-the-head jetlag feeling I'm doing well.
Arrived in London, had a great lunch with David and MaryLee Anderson and the kids, had a pint and some great conversation in a real old British pub (in Rickmansworth), and now back at Heathrow... all before 9 am Vancouver time!
It was a strange "night flight" here. The combination of strategically placed children throughout the plane and a blazing sunset that turned immediately into a blazing sunrise meant that pretty much no one went to sleep "last night." Bring on the Nairobi flight.... I need some sleep!
Just had the coolest conversation with the security dude here at YVR. He asked me what I did for a living while he sniffed out my laptop. I told him a little about Linwood House, and about working with women trying to exit the sex trade. He asked if we did any work in Asia, and I was able to tell him that Sue just got home from Bangkok last week. At this point I realized he wasn't just putting me through the security paces.
He asked about India, which I assume is his background. And then, looking a little sheepish, he said, "I would like to do that kind of work in India." I told him that undoubtedly there are people already doing that kind of thing there, and the trick was to find them and partner up with them. I told him to check out the doc Born Into Brothels as a place to start. Then we talked about the satisfaction of spending your life doing something to "help people." I encouraged him to look into it, and wished him well. His parting words to me were quiet and heartfelt. "I would like to do that with my life."
God bless you, my friend.
Scheduled to land at Heathrow at 11:10am tomorrow morning, departing for Nairobi at 8:00pm, hanging out with friends in between.
Jesus-Following vs. Social Activism (by Derek Webb)
Claiming to follow Jesus is a ridiculous thing to try and do. He's a really hard guy to follow, especially when he talks about loving the poor, loving our neighbors, and loving those who hate and oppose us. Loving people who love us is sometimes hard enough, but loving our enemies is just counterintuitive. It goes against every instinct in my body. When someone does or seeks to do harm to me or my family, it's my knee-jerk reaction, my default, to return violence with violence. I am violent to the core. To confess anything less would be a dangerous land mine to sneak over.
This is why it's so important to know who Jesus is and what he's asking us to do. And luckily, for our benefit, we have his answer recorded in a historical document. When asked point-blank, "What are the most important things we're commanded to do?" it's curious what Jesus says. And what he doesn't say. He doesn't mention all of the overwhelming issues of morality that we seem to obsess over in the Christian ghetto. He doesn't mention any of the countless issues that are dividing our churches left and right. He says, "Love God and love your neighbors," that, in fact, all of the law and prophets hang on these two commands, and that these are literally the context for all other commands we keep.
This is the work of following Jesus -- to love and care especially for those whom it is difficult. It is therefore never a political position to be on the side of the poor. Working for justice in all areas of society is not peripheral to the proclamation of the good news of Jesus; it is central. His message was not that of the individual salvation of men and women, but of the "being made right of all things." While this certainly includes the stories of men and women, that is such a small part of the whole. It's a story about our families, our environment, our governments, our neighbors, about the whole of what God has made. And proclaiming half the truth as the whole truth is no truth at all.
How do we tell the whole story of the coming reign of God, a new way of being human and relating to God and God's creation? We put our hands to it. We proclaim a day coming when there will be no more thirst by giving water to the thirsty. We proclaim a day coming where there will be no more disease and death by caring for the lives of those whose bodies are broken. We proclaim a day coming where there will be no more war by preemptively sowing the seeds of peace.
It's true: The Bible does say that there is a time to build up and a time to tear down, a time to rejoice and a time to weep, a time for peace and a time for war. But we live in anticipation of the day coming when there will be no more time to tear down. There will be no more time for weeping. There will simply be no more time for war. Soon we're going to run out of time for these things. This is the day we work for. This is the day we pray into today.
Derek Webb is a singer and songwriter. His latest album is Ampersand EP, a collaboration with his wife, Sandra McCracken.
I love the opening line of the piece. When you think about it, following Jesus is almost impossible. Almost. That we've made it relatively painless and easy should tell us something.