Archive for September, 2008

Somalia: A Testimony
For Wednesday 24 September, Ramadan 2008. “Loving Muslims Through Prayer”

Libaan spent years outside of Somalia in several different countries. Eventually, he received a portion from the Injil (Gospel). He was impressed by what he read. The text was beautiful with a deep message. After two more years he fully believed the message and entrusted his life to Isa Al Masih (Jesus the Messiah). Libaan’s relatives heard that Libaan had become a Gal (Somali word for a pagan). Most Somalis can’t imagine that Christians may also be people who fear God, because they assume that Christians live a very worldly lifestyle (including drunkenness and immorality). Returning to see his family Libaan insisted that he not be called a Gal. In his view he was submitted to God, the Almighty. While his family received him well at first, later they rejected him. This experience broke his heart. Somali believers are few in number. They experience loneliness and rejection even from their most beloved family members. Only encouragement and comfort from God helps them to overcome.

[Full Text]

Prayer Starters:

  • Pray that Somalis could see the true value of the kingdom (Mt.13:44-46). God’s forgiveness and abundant life in the Messiah are present realities of that kingdom.

  • Pray that the Somalis who come to faith in the Messiah would not only be seen as rebels by their families. May they have opportunities to demonstrate that they can be culturally Somali and followers of Jesus at the same time.

+ Google Map Link: Somalia, East Africa

+ YouTube Video Link: Currency crisis in a famished Somalia [2:08]

+ Gospel Language Link: Hear the Good News in the SOMALI language

You are welcome and encouraged to forward these e-mails to others.
This is an excerpt from the 30-Days Muslim Prayer Focus booklet. More testimonies on our site.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

This comes from the 30 Days group which offers a prayer guide for the month of Ramadan:

Somalia: Hard realities for Muslim men and families
For Tuesday 23 September, Ramadan 2008. “Loving Muslims Through Prayer”

Total Somali population: 9,119,000 (July 2007 est.)

Some men have found a way to escape from the harsh realities of Somali life. Khat (Catha Edulis) is an evergreen shrub that grows in the highlands of Ethiopia, Kenya and Yemen. Chewing the leaves of khat has a stimulating, narcotic effect, and like most drugs, khat is addictive and must be consumed daily. The majority of Somali men are addicted to khat, which has a huge influence on their life in Somali society.

Khat chewers suffer from various health problems, yet those who really suffer the most are their families. Men often spend most of their money on khat, yet their families go hungry.

[Full Text]

Prayer Starters:

  • Pray that the bondage of khat would be broken. Social pressure encouraging men to chew khat is huge. Strength, wisdom and courage are needed to break this national addiction.
  • Pray for wives and children to know how to cope with the absence of men.
  • Pray that Somali society will experience God’s healing of families and come to know true fatherhood and the Father in Heaven.
  • Pray with the whole family for Somali families, giving God special thanks for Dads and Mums.

+ Google Map Link: Somalia, East Africa

+ YouTube Video Link: Somalia, land of Need [18: 34]

+ Gospel Language Link: The Look Listen and Live series is a discipleship series in the Somali language

You are welcome and encouraged to forward these e-mails to others.
This is an excerpt from the 30-Days Muslim Prayer Focus booklet, also available via our Book shop.

Learn more about Ramadan here.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Greetings on a nice fall day!

Oh, its not fall yet where you are? Well we’ve only had a handful of days that have reached 70 degrees in the last few weeks. Yes this is one of the advantages of moving farther north. Yet it does signal that winter may be fast approaching – but let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves.

We survived our first summer in Minneapolis and it was a lot easier than the first winter! It may be cooler in general but we had plenty of days in the 90’s and our share of humidity. One night it was 92 at 7pm. Our weather reaches both extremes – just that the summer is short!

Ok, enough about the weather. It is the middle of September which means we are getting ready to celebrate 2 years of wonderful marriage. Moving to Minneapolis has allowed us to grow closer together and really deepen the friendship that is the bedrock of our marriage. We have explored many new and exciting places and met many new wonderful people. Don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten about you and all of our friends that are spread around the country. Since the last update I also celebrated my 27th birthday and am definitely on the downhill slide to 30. Per our tradition (and really almost a tradition from my entire life) we went camping to celebrate. Who knew that to get “good” camping spots you have to begin planning almost a year in advance? We had a great time exploring more of the North Shore (Lake Superior), especially all of the water falls and rivers! We have visited the North Shore a handful of times since April and have enjoyed taking friends up to explore and see new things each time.

Interspersed with all of our adventures we do actually work! And summer was no different. I was one of the few individuals that worked at school all summer long. It was very relaxed and provided a good opportunity to get to know some of the other staff better. We truly have an amazing group of teachers and support staff that are dedicated to their jobs. I put in a few hours each day at school before heading over to the Seward Towers. The Towers are two affordable housing apartment complexes, with a mostly East African tenant base. They are owned and operated by a non-profit organization that provides a variety of services to the tenants throughout the year. As I mentioned in previous e-mails I needed to keep my level of service consistent throughout the summer and the Seward Towers staff was gracious enough to let me help with their Summer Fun program. So basically I spent my summer afternoons hanging out with 5-12 year old children. It was a fun experience with many ups and downs along the way. I truly enjoyed learning more about their respective cultures and seeing their reactions and growth throughout the summer. The Summer Fun program ended in time for me to ramp up for the beginning of the school year, which started the Tuesday after Labor Day. The building dynamic steadily changed as first the teachers came back and then went into full-pitch fever with the arrival of the kids!! It is good to have them back since they are the purpose for our work!

Christy is enjoying her job as well. She appreciates the consistency of working straight nights. Her ability to sleep through anything is amazing! Recently she has been assigned more to work in the nursery where she enjoys holding and taking care of the babies while their mothers sleep! Her parents came up to visit us for a week in August and we had a great time showing them around the city and letting them get a glimpse of what our life is like here.

A summer without a garden would be a little sad so we were happy that our landlords let us build a garden in the back yard and also use their plot in the community garden. We were overwhelmed by tomatoes and cabbage and enjoyed eating our peppers, herbs, and lettuce. Sadly, the lettuce and tomatoes weren’t ripe at the same time so we never had a full salad from our garden. This was also a great way to get to know many of our neighbors and share produce with them.

We continue to help our Somali neighbors learn English and more about America. This summer we had 2 of our students pass the citizenship exam and were excited to welcome them as fellow citizens. I had the pleasure of working directly with these students, preparing them for their tests. Christy continues to work with some of the beginning level students – practicing letter sounds and constructing words and sentences. Christy has also been going with one of the teachers to visit some of the students and is beginning to get to know them better.This has been a great way for both of us to connect with our neighbors and learn about their experiences. Some of their stories are heart-breaking as their lives were ravaged by greed and war. We are currently enjoying a break while they celebrate the month of Ramadan, their holiest time of year. We were very saddened to learn that one of the students passed away a few days after Christy had visited her. We continue to be challenged in unique ways throughtout this experience and would appreciate your prayers for us and our friends.

This is getting a little long, so I won’t bore you with too much more! Feel free to check out the pictures from our summer at

I would be a little remiss though if I didn’t talk about my marathon training and our fundraising efforts for Team World Vision. Training for my first marathon has gone exceptionally well. I have set many new personal records (PRs) during the training cycle as well as running my farthest run ever – 22 miles this past weekend. With three more weeks to go I am quite excited and my goal of running a 3:10 marathon is within reach. After some discussion Christy and I decided that I should dedicate my first marathon to supporting World Vision, an organization that is doing work that we are both passionate about. I’ve written a lot about this ( and am proud to say that we’ve raised over $500 and are 1/4 of the way to our goal of $2,000. We are thankful that you, our friends and family, have supported us in this endeavor. You might think that Christy has it easy – but she has to put up with me being tired and traveling around with me to my races!! You can make your secure, tax-deductible gift here.

If everyone reading this e-mail donated $10 we would easily exceed our fundraising goal and change many lives in Africa. I am dedicating this marathon to them and need your support to make it happen. Thank you in advance for your generosity.

Please e-mail us back with an update about your life, we would love to hear from you!

God Bless,

Nick and Christy

PS. $10 is a few cups of coffee for you, but is literally the difference between life and death for a friend in Africa.

In this heated election season it is important that all Christ followers act in accordance with Scripture and love everyone for who they are. As a unique creation of God, each person holds the image of God within them. Everyone from the most right-wing to the most left, black, white, elite, poor, old, and young should be treated with dignity and respect.

With that said, each of us will make the best decision we think possible on November 4. As American’s we should go to the voting booth and vote within the best of our knowledge and conscience.

In that vain, Jim Wallis of Sojourner’s wrote this about Christian Civility:

So maybe we should have some rules of civility for this election. Let me suggest “Five Rules of Christian Civility.”

  1. We Christians should be in the pocket of no political party, but should evaluate both candidates and parties by our biblically-based moral compass.
  2. We don’t vote on only one issue, but see biblical foundations for our concerns over many issues.
  3. We advocate for a consistent ethic of life from womb to tomb, and one that challenges the selective moralities of both the left and the right.
  4. We will respect the integrity of our Christian brothers and sisters in their sincere efforts to apply Christian commitments to the important decisions of this election, knowing that people of faith and conscience will be voting both ways in this election year.
  5. We will not attack our fellow Christians as Democratic or Republican partisans, but rather will expect and respect the practice of putting our faith first in this election year, even if we reach different conclusions.

On Nov. 4, Christians will not be able to vote for the kingdom of God. It is not on the ballot. Yet there are very important choices to make that will significantly impact the common good and the health of this nation — and of the world. So we urge our Christian brothers and sisters to exercise their crucial right to vote and to apply their Christian conscience to those decisions. And in the finite and imperfect political decisions of this and any election, we promise to respect the Christian political conscience of our brothers and sisters in Christ.

I think we can all live within these 5 “rules” of discussion and life. What do you think of these?

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Sarah Palin and Rudy Giuliani both mocked Barack Obama’s career as a community organizer. Palin made the most blatant mockery of the profession by comparing her experience as mayor to his as an organizer by saying “a small-town mayor is sort of like a community organizer, except that you have actual responsibilities.”

As I’ve thought about the comments they have made me a little upset, in some ways my job and experience is tied very closely to that of an organizer. As to be expected the community of organizers are very upset, no doubt organizing against McCain & Palin!

The joke played well to the party faithful, but in my opinion, mockery may be the best form of flattery, but its not a good way to get votes. Okay, so maybe we shouldn’t make fun of her experience as a mayor of a small town.

Christianity Today
wrote that

Obama was incensed by the mockery, asking, “Why would that kind of work be ridiculous? Who are they (Republicans) fighting for… They think that the lives of those folks who are struggling each and every day, that working with them to try to improve their lives is somehow not relevant to the presidency?”

I’m not sure how any one could say that there is no responsibilities in community organizing. Essentially organizing is the most basic form of democracy – working at the grassroots level gathering support for community change. I don’t know much about Obama’s work in Chicago, but in general organizing is tireless work, often calling for long hours and at times small, incremental successes.

The Wikipedia definition of community organizing may shed some light on the situation:

Community organizing is the foundation of the civil rights movement, the women’s suffrage movement, labor rights, and the 40-hour workweek. Throughout our history, ordinary people have made good on America’s promise by organizing for change from the bottom up. From winning living wages to expanding affordable housing to improving the quality of public schools to getting health coverage for the poor and elderly, community organizers have made and will continue to make our communities and our country better for all of us.

It is my understanding that the Republican Party doesn’t really like these issues. I am a moderate who tends to lean conservative on many issues, but these are issues that are important to really discuss and actually act on during the 4 years between presidential campaigns.

Less Controversial – A Christian Perspective

Surprisingly Christianity Today quietly chastised Giuliani and Palin for their remarks.

for a party still trying to shake off the stereotype that Republicans are out of touch concerning the plight of the poor and care only for the rich. Certainly pro-lifers and others who help the poor do their own brands of community organizing in dysfunctional pockets of society. Whether community organizing is the best way to help the poor is one thing, but to dismiss out of hand the work of someone willing at least to try to help is another entirely.

Jim Wallis of Sojourners was offended by these comments, but more importantly he provided comments from a variety of faith-based community organizers, some of which are or were Republicans.

When people come together in my church hall to improve our community, they’re building the Kingdom of God in San Diego. We see the fruits of community organizing in safer streets, new parks, and new affordable housing. It’s the spirit of democracy for people to have a say and we need more of it,” said Bishop Roy Dixon, prelate of the Southern California 4th ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Church of God in Christ, member of the San Diego Organizing Project and former board chair of PICO National Network.

I should also note this paragraph about what community organizers have been doing since Hurricane Katrina to help prepare for Hurricane Gustav. So community organizers were doing a ton of work to help evacuate and prepare people for a potential disaster:

“Perk,” as we used to call him, reported on the enormous consequences of 2 million people being evacuated because of Hurricane Gustav, much of the state now being without power, how hard cities like Baton Rouge were hit, the tens of thousands of people in shelters and churches, and the continuing problems caused by heavy rains and flooding. Then he talked about how their community organizers were responding to all of this — responding to hundreds of service calls, assisting local officials in evacuation plans, aiding evacuees without transportation, coordinating shelters and opening new ones, providing food, essential services, and financial aid to those in most need. Since Katrina, Perry’s Louisiana interfaith organizations have played a lead role in securing millions of dollars to help thousands of families return to New Orleans and rebuild their homes and their lives.

Another blogger from Sojourners, Rev. Dr. Soong-Chan Rah had this to say:

Community organizing attempts to give voice to the voiceless in our society (not just the powerful and the elite) and attempts to build influence based on relationships, rather than positions. Community organizing provides a prophetic voice because it arises from outside the system of power from the local community. Those feel to me like very biblical values.

Sojourners has published some great articles in the past about faith-based community organizing – Organizing Hope and Saul Alinsky goes to Church.

Elana Wolowitz responded at the Wellstone Action Blog with a post entitled: Responsibilities of an Organizer. She had this to say:

Being an organizer means putting the needs of the community above yourself and your ego. Your task is to influence the powerful with little more than the common will, and do so while developing the leadership of those around you. A good organizer is always working to put themselves out of a job, because many others should be prepared to step up and take their place. You listen and learn, coordinate and plan, arrive early and stay late, and do the real work that improves people’s lives.

I guess this means putting people first – not country first.

A local paper, Minn Post interviewed several organizers around the Twin Cities including

Elana Wolowitz, communications director for Wellstone Action!, is quick to point out that the nonprofit organization she works for is bipartisan. She’s just as quick to note that Palin’s “remarks were insulting and inappropriate to a field of work that is made up of people who are really sacrificing of themselves to give back to the community.”
Chuck Repke, longtime executive director of the District 2 Community Council in St. Paul, said “Clearly [Palin] doesn’t have much understanding of what community organizers do in a larger city.”

The District 2 Community Council facilitates communication between 10 neighborhoods in northeast St. Paul. It also offers English classes, carries out recycling efforts and crime prevention measures, and holds school supply drives, among other programs.

“The big thing of a community organizer is empowering the citizens to be able to take control of their communities, to give a voice to people who normally are voiceless, to empower those people who tend not to have much power and to facilitate the development of leadership in the community. It’s about making other people have power, not power for yourself,” Repke explained.

Yes the Democrats need to be thick skinned and should expect some harsh words and criticism about their lives. But in their remarks, Giuliani and Palin attacked a profession, not a person. I would venture to say that Republicans don’t really like Community Organizers too much because they are the opposite of big business and oil. Organizers are often organizing against “the establishment”, it is the nature of the beast.

Two late posts about organizing from The Moderate Voice and Daily Kos (don’t think about them as a liberal blog, take a second and look at their photo diary of organizing).

What do you think?

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]
On Sept 3 we decided that we would risk going to St Paul to take part in a peaceful rally to raise awareness about the ongoing Genocide in Darfur. The event combined the national organization Camp Darfur with several local groups. The host organization, Minnesota Interfaith Darfur Coalition (MIDC) estimated around 200 people attended.

Camp Darfur is:

An interactive awareness and education event that brings attention to the ongoing genocide in Darfur, Sudan, and gives individuals the opportunity to discover their own power to make a difference. This traveling refugee camp raises awareness and examines Sudan’s Darfur region and its humanitarian crisis – genocide – by placing it in historical context with Armenia, Holocaust, Cambodia, and Rwanda. Camp Darfur empowers communities to raise their voice and take action for the individuals of Darfur.

According to St Paul’s Pioneer Press Coverage:

“People have Darfur fatigue, for one,” said Rabbi Sim Glaser, who co-founded the MIDC and helped organized the day’s events. He said that three times as many people showed up to a rally — in the rain, no less — three years ago. “People can’t deal with the enormity of the problem.”

I might agree with that statement, but I think that the anarchists and police levels in St Paul, may have had a significant effect on turnout as well.

This was one of the major lines from a professor at the U of Minnesota’s Human Rights Center:

The event, which featured musicians, experts on the violence in Darfur, and religious leaders in the Twin Cities, urged people to pressure representatives in Congress to do more to end a conflict that has resulted in the deaths of at least 300,000 people.

A similar number to the entire population of St. Paul.

Again from the Pioneer Press, one of the more powerful speakers:

Alice Musabende [pictured at right], who was orphaned after her family was killed in the Rwandan genocide, didn’t mince any works, and her frustration about inaction boiled to the surface during her speech

“People were watching O.J. Simpson” during the 97 days of killing in Rwanda, she [Alice]said. “I have a question ‘What on earth does it take for you to act?'”

As a survivor, she can be a little more forceful. It made me wonder what I did – nothing. I knew nothing about it in my little southern Ohio bubble.

We had a good time at the event. We’ve only been to one other Darfur event in Minneapolis. Both have been very good and featured some of the same ideas and calls to action. It is powerful to see the tents and read more about the other genocides – that we said we’d never let another one happen.

The main action point was to call 1-800-Genocide. It will walk you through the rest of the action. We also spotted some people wearing Team Darfur garb.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]
Laura Bush Speaking

In case you missed it the Republican National Convention was in my new town this week. Before you click away, this isn’t really about the RNC. Only partly. We did our part and let a sister-in-law of a friend spend the night with us – always glad to be gracious hosts! My penchant for politics made me want to be involved someone, but Christy said if I volunteered, she would go protest. Well I’m glad I didn’t because she might have been a little anarchist (not really but did you see the news?).

Cindy McCain Speaking

Ok, now for the main point of this post: World Vision and the ONE Campaign wanted to do something productive with the thousands of people hanging out and taking part in democracy. Sp they took the opportunity to get delegates, friends of the Party, and regular people like us to spend a few hours one afternoon so that we could impact thousands of lives – thousands of miles away.

We joined a few hundred other people on Tuesday at the Minneapolis Convention Center to put together Caregiver Kits. We were standing next to a lot of delegates, somebody important from the State Department’s Eurasia division, and I’m sure other “important” people I didn’t know, like the crippled woman or students from Bethany House of Prayer. We heard from Senator Bill Frist, Laura Bush, Cindy McCain, and Princess Zulu of Zambia. I will say that of all the “celebrities” in attendance Janet Huckabee actually stayed until the end and did a lot of work putting together the kits.

Enough Hype
What did we actually do? We put together Caregiver Kits that included basic medical supplies that a trained Caregiver in a developing co

Laura Bush hugging
Princess Zulu of Zambia

untry can use to “bring dignity and comfort to those living with AIDS.” Please read more about the kits and what they can do. It was a lot of fun to be involved in something that would make a tangible difference in someone’s life. Christy and I probably made at least 40 kits out of the 2,500 total from the event. Simple items such as latex gloves, antibacterial soap, antifungal cream, washcloths, and more can help a person live a better life.

I took a video putting together a kit:

Laura Bush & Princess
Zulu making a Caregiver Kit

A very simple project that has a lasting and powerful impact. The last item placed in each kit was a handwritten note to the caregiver – offering encouragement and thanks for their hard work. The ONE Campaign has a great write-up and video’s from the event. They did this same event in Denver at the Democratic National Convention, write-up here.

Updated: ONE now has a full video of the speaking part of the event and the “celebrities” creating caregiver kits.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]