Thinking About God

Bandera

This past January 16th, El Salvador celebrated 25 years since Peace Accords were signed to end a brutal civil war. That same week a piece of art went on display in MARTE, El Salvador’s art museum, to celebrate the anniversary. The piece of art quite literally laid out the still fought for peace that so many long for. That artist’s name is Carmen Elena Trigueros and her piece is called simply Bandera, meaning “flag.” I recently chaperoned a field trip with my daughter’s class and Bandera was one of the pieces featured by the guide. When I saw Bandera I stood there small, struck by the beauty of the piece and the enormity of the task spilling out across the floor. The flag was white and long and stretched up […]

Connections

Relationships not only connect us, they change us. When I look back at my life, everything significant is connected to a relationship. The death of a friend that pushed me on a different track, the ending of a relationship, the beginning of a new one. Parents, grandparents, classmates, teachers, mentors. My marriage, my children. Bosses and pastors. All of these relationships have changed who I am to varying degrees. Some hold more significant spaces in my life, but all have made an impact. It should come as no surprise that God chose to reach out to humanity in relationships. Knowing Him as a personal God has drastically altered my life. It is the most defining relationship us humans can have. If we are so designed and defined…through relationship with Him, then […]

It’s Complicated

Está yuca. That’s a Salvadoran slang phrase that basically means that it’s complicated. It’s messed up,  and it’s tough to sort out. We use that phrase a lot around our office, and that’s because almost every one of our clients comes to us with layers of complication. Poverty, violence, systems that are practically rigged against them. Here is a glimpse… There is the boy coming to New Dawn because gangs threatened his life back in his hometown. He had to flee and he fled to the streets of San Salvador. Life on the streets is hard…abuse and addiction soon become the cycle that he can’t escape. There is the man who was traumatized as a child, and eventually turned to alcohol. Over time, he lost his wife, his job, his […]

Unseen

“Your path led through the sea, your way through the mighty waters,  though your footprints were not seen.”  Psalm 77:19 My father told me to follow the rocky steps across the river where it swirled and raced below the waterfall. He told me to step from rock to rock and I could safely cross. I could see the first few rocks mossy and green beneath my feet but as the river swarmed and the path grew deeper I could no longer see the steps. I could simply feel them out with my toes, sense where they were. Behind me my father called to keep going straight through, until I reached the glistening bank across the water. The river wasn’t so deep after all, it just seemed that way because it […]

A Gateway of Hope

I have been reading some truly horrific things in the news here in El Salvador this week. A six year old girl was barbarically raped and murdered as part of a gang initiation rite. A police agent was brutally killed in front of his children. Meanwhile, the daily grind of violence pushes school attendance down and pulls the homicide rate up. I try to hide the paper from my children and swallow the physically ill feelings that this news brings. It seems like there is nothing left to do in the face of such reckless evil than to simply despair, give up, and wave the white flag. We deeply love this country, and it feels like it’s falling down before my eyes. How can I tell people that they can get […]

Gone Fishin’

One of the things that our clients truly look forward to is the chance to get off the streets and out of the city for the day. A few weeks ago, we took a group of guys down to La Libertad to fish off the pier. They watched the fishermen come in and out with their catch, they ate some seafood, and they tried fishing themselves. They loved it! Fishing is not for the impatient. It takes time, and there are no guarantees. If the fish aren’t biting, a fisherman could stand on that pier all day long gazing into the blue water and waiting for something to grab hold of the bait. The truth is, that our work sometimes feels like a long day of fishing. There are no guarantees and […]

This Year Is Going To Be Different

This year is going to be different.  I repeated that mantra to myself over and over again as I pulled out the Christmas decorations and looked over the December page on my calendar. I set up the Advent wreath with the hopes of remembering what Christmas is all about. The doing is not going to consume me…it’s going to be different.  Here I sit on the other side feeling like a total failure. Oh, we did the Advent wreath for two weeks focusing on the hope and the love. But joy and peace got lost somewhere along the way and my wreath literally fell apart. Buried. Sad and bent under a pile of gifts. They weren’t gifts for my family, but gifts that were donated for our ministry, and they […]

Advent

Several thousand years ago, Jesus arrived on a chaotic scene. He was born into a land with political strife, and He was born into an oppressed people. They lived in a state of longing, waiting, and hoping for more.  God’s people couldn’t understand why God wasn’t speaking, or where He was. He had been silent and here they were beaten down, struggling, and confused. Into the chaos, Jesus silently arrived. Humbly, quietly, where He was least expected and where He was least hoped for. Into the space of a dark night in a dirty corner came the great Deliverer. I can find myself in that chaotic place. There is crisis around me. Dear friends are hurting, crime rates are rising, and the stories I hear break me down. There is oppression and […]

The Fight Against Poverty

October 17th has been declared the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. The day was first recognized back in 1987 with the purpose of focusing the world’s attention on issues related to poverty. In El Salvador, poverty is a root cause of many issues that face our friends. Things like human trafficking, homelessness, and the potential to be victimized by violent crime are all perpetuated by poverty. A child born into poverty has a higher chance of being victimized or exploited, and ultimately of ending up living a life on the streets or in unsafe conditions. This is the case for millions of people around the world who struggle to get through each day, and have to work their hardest simply to survive. It is a tragedy that so […]

Rest

We just got back from a week long family vacation in Roatan, Honduras. It was the first time in five years of living here that we have gotten away with just our kids. We were able to connect with them after a busy few months, clear our heads of burnout and ministry worries, and spend a whole week not even talking about work stuff. The kids loved having us to themselves, and they declared it their “best trip ever.” I think that we all needed it, and the fact that we are so close to the Caribbean gave us a beautiful place to rest and recharge. We had the island nearly to ourselves since we slipped in at the end of the low season before cruise ships and crowds take […]

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