Stuff We’re Reading

The Weight of All Things

Last week while we were on vacation I was finally able to finish a book that I started months ago. I think I’ve set a record for longest time to finish a not-so-long book, but I’m so glad that I did. The book is called The Weight of All Things, and it is Sandra Benitez’s follow up to her epic novel, Bitter Grounds. And just like her first novel, it pulls you right in to the world of El Salvador…this time during the Salvadoran Civil War. The book is a novel, but it includes very real depictions of things that happened during the conflict. I saw the war through the eyes of a scared young boy as he was forced to aid guerrillas on his family’s ranch, and then later as he was forced to […]

“The Surprising Discovery About Those Colonialist, Proselytizing, Missionaries”

This morning I read an article that everyone is posting all over social media. The article from Christianity Today raises some interesting points, and highlights some research in the area of missions. Click the link below to read the whole article: The Surprising Discovery About Those Colonialist, Proselytizing Missionaries The article specifically mentions the impact that 19th century Protestant missionaries had in shaping the future of the nations where they served. Of course, there were people during that time who did damage all in the name of Christ, and it’s easy to write off all missionaries because of the negative examples. But there were also many who impacted countries positively in the spheres of social justice, education, and political reform.  The article ties the successes of many modern-day developed nations to […]

The Just Church

  We are in the middle of a busy season in our lives, but I’m still trying to make my way through a few books. One of the books I’m reading right now is called “The Just Church.” It’s a book written by International Justice Mission staff member Jim Martin. I’m about halfway through and I’ve already been inspired by the story of his journey to lead his church into becoming a church with a heart of justice. One of the things he mentioned that really resonated with me is the “failure point of faith.” He talks about weight training and how muscles need to fail to become stronger. Our faith is similar. When we are confronted with terrible injustices and horrible things our faith gives out. But it also […]

Tolkien and Tragedy

Sitting at my desk in El Salvador, the news reports are pouring in…bombings, death in Boston. I scroll down the other news stories and I read about death in the Middle East, hatred in Asia. I take in the local news stories. Gangs at war, youth lost again. “So much death. What can man do against such reckless hate?” These epic words were spoken by King Theoden in the second film installment of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Those of you who know me, know that I am a huge J.R.R. Tolkien fan. I’ve read the books, and a weekend spent in a LOTR movie marathon is a great weekend as far as I’m concerned. I think Tolkien resonates with so many people because his themes of tyranny, tragedy, […]

Bitter Grounds

Yesterday marked 21 years since a peace agreement brought an end to El Salvador’s brutal civil conflict. The war lasted for 12 years and claimed the lives of over 75,000 Salvadorans. Many left El Salvador and never came back, others went missing and were never found. The American memory has to look a long way back to remember an armed conflict fought on U.S. soil. That’s not true in El Salvador. One friend shared with me how her father died in the eastern part of the country after being recruited to fight for the government. She was too young to remember. Another friend told me of the late-night flight from his home with the sounds of heavy artillery slicing through the air. Still another recalls diving under his desk because the fighting had reached the […]

Short-Term Season

The “short-term missions season” is upon us. Our kids are wrapping up their last week of school, and our summer interns are on their way to El Salvador as I write this. We will have North American teams and volunteers passing through our doors all summer long. We hope that it is a valuable experience for everyone. Short-terms missions have become a billion dollar “business” and millions of North Americans travel around the world each year to serve. This is a good thing, and many people have benefitted. We have been incredibly blessed with amazing volunteers who have come to El Salvador to learn from and encourage local missionaries and Christians. We also have seen people develop a heart for missions as a result of a short-term trip. This is a good thing! But […]

Weaving Shalom

A man who is involved in The Lighthouse homeless ministry showed up drunk on the doorstep yesterday morning.  He was devastated and frustrated. And so were we. This man has been in and out of rehab. Recently, he has seemed to have a lot of success, but he’s spent the last five days on the street. Our hearts break for him because of his struggle. He struggles with the pain from his past, and he struggles to overcome the addictions in his life. He made a committment to follow Christ just over a year ago, but it’s been a long process with him…many ups and downs. We’ve been there with him through the process. Something that I have learned since moving to San Salvador is that here in the city […]

Generous Justice

I live in a country that has massive poverty. I see it every single day. In fact, my very occupation is centered around working in and through poverty to bring restoration to individuals both spiritually and physically. I look back at myself when I arrived in San Salvador. I knew next to nothing about alleviating poverty. We committed to spending the first two years as “students” of the language and culture. That includes studying urban ministry and strategies for Latin American urban centers. We’ve made mistakes and we’ve had to evaluate many of our actions. We are still learning and we’ve been wrong.  We’ve made mistakes, and we’ve been guilty of some wrong attitudes and actions. I must confess that I have been sub-consciously guilty of having a “savior-complex.”  I didn’t […]

A Praying Life

Lately we spend a lot of time reading things in Spanish, or stuff about El Salvador and Latin America but we’ve also read some interesting books in English too. One that I read not too long ago is called The Praying Life by Paul Miller. This book is well worth reading especially if you are someone who doesn’t have time to pray, or doesn’t see the point in praying. I fall into the later group very many times because I tend to be very cynical. For years I took pride in this character flaw, but lately I can see how it has screwed up my life many times. This has definitely affected my prayer life, and this is something that is addressed in the book. I find myself often wondering what is […]