Jesus wants to transform Guatemala, one heart at a time.

The Celebration of Liberation started last January.   It was the idea of Jorge Cerritos, the pastor of “Ciudad de Refugio”.  That’s the name of the church, but also, the concept.  A place of safety in the middle of chaos.  So, Jorge decides to invite the men who can be found early every Saturday morning at the small cantinas near the bus depot …  either recuperating from a hard alcohol filled night, or starting the day by numbing their brains …to breakfast.  

The men of the small church in the squatter village in the Guatemala City suburb of Villa Nueva gather the tipsy and muddle headed flock, and bring them into the small garage that serves as the church’s assembly room.  They serve up a hearty soup, or eggs, and tortillas.   They also share their stories.  It seems the majority of the men in the “church” are former drunks.  Jorge gives a very passionate, very love laden, very biblical talk about a better answer to the challenges of life than that found in a bottle. 

Daniel came for a number of weeks, always pretty soused, and always sullen.  He obviously needed the food, but practically covered his ears when the “preaching” started.  His face was swollen from many years of alcohol abuse.  The majority of his teeth were missing.  Week after week, he came, spoke with no one, and ate his breakfast.

A guest speaker came to the garage/refuge.  He spoke of the roots of anger.  He said that often, we do not know how to handle the pain we have experienced.  He said we need to grieve.  We need to realize that we are hurt, wounded by life.  This had a visible effect on most there.  Eyes turned inward, and reflected painful memories coming to minds.  He explained that we do not have to grieve alone.  Jesus offers to be with us in our grief, and to give us healing.  Jesus died to prove the Love of God for us.  Not because we are worthy of his love, but precisely because we are not worthy.  He invited the men to take hold of the love of God, and the presence of Jesus, to find solace.

Daniel seemed to wake up bit by bit as the pastor spoke.  By the end, he came up to the visitor, and thanked him profusely.  I do not know if the pastor understood the transformation in front of him.  He had not witnessed the weeks of sullen rejection of hope.  Could he sense that his words were good, fitly spoken, in due time?

The next time I saw Daniel, he was in the streets, and waved at me.  I thought he probably wanted money.  Many of the men who come on Saturday hope to leverage our friendship to get enough for “just one more” as they say when they ask for a few Quetzales.  I started to say I didn’t have any money, but Daniel asked me to pray for him.    He said he needed to change his mind.   The next time, maybe a week later, he again waved at me.   He asked something in such a low voice, and with timidity, that I again thought he was asking for money.  But when I again responded that I had no money, he said: “no…I don’t want money.  I need a bible.  I wondered if you might have a bible I could use.  I need to fill my head with good.” 

Pastor Jorge then took advantage of an offer to rent a large building in the neighborhood, to make it into a refuge for abused women and their children.  It was basically a nice building, but needed a lot of repairs to the roof, and electoral wiring, and plumbing.  It needed a coat of paint badly.   I looked through my calendar to see what teams from the states might be available to help renovate the building.  Jorge invited the “Borrachitos” [dear little drunks] as we called the men from the Celebration of Liberation, to help clean and renovate the building.

The next few times I saw Daniel, he was working hard, either painting, or constructing scaffolding to reach the high ceilings.  He was intent, and quiet as ever.  But there was a serene smile on his brightening face.  He was one of the most consistent of the workers during about 3 weeks of labor.  The whole community remarked on the good work the town drunks were doing.  They often gave things to the work, sending food for the workers, and talking about how “we” are going to help the women in need.  

The next time I saw Daniel, he was in the weekly prayer meeting.  The leaders of the Ciudad de Refugio meet Thursday nights, to pray and talk.  There was Daniel.  Fervent.  At peace.  Desiring to help in the work of this small fellowship that is bringing the love of God in tangible ways to the marginalized people of this squatter village.   He is the man in the Blue and red jacket.

Jesus wants to transform Guatemala, one heart at a time.


a new direction...sort of

Much of the needs we see in Guatemala are monotonously repetitive throughout the world...annoyingly repetitive!

I am changing the name of my blog, but only slightly redirecting its content.

I will be posting my opinion ( as always, not as humble as it ought)  and also connections to articles and posts that generally concern the issues that affect the children at risk in Guatemala.

For instance:   This article, about Siberia ( about as far away as you can get from Guatemala geographically, yet oh so close when it comes to systemic corruption)   underscores the fact that for evil to be victorious, it does not require that good men become evil...only that they do nothing against evil.

here is the issue at a glance:

from the article:
Above the Law

Russia Uses Microsoft to Suppress Dissent

Microsoft, like many American technology giants doing business in authoritarian countries, is often faced with ethical choices over government directives to help suppress dissent. In China, Microsoft has complied with censorship rules in operating its Web search service, preventing Chinese users from easily accessing banned information. Its archrival Google stopped following censorship regulations there, and scaled back its operations inside China’s Internet firewall.
In Russia, leaders of advocacy groups and newspapers subjected to antipiracy raids said Microsoft was cooperating with the authorities because the company feared jeopardizing its business in the country. They said Microsoft needed to issue a categorical public statement disavowing these tactics and pledging to never cooperate in such cases.
Microsoft has not done that, but has promised to review its policies in Russia.


sometimes technology really works!

Here is a cool story about a group of good Samaritans who are connected by a tech on line group I have never heard of....who saved lives.

I felt I was too busy to read it all, including the links...but that's the problem, isn't it?  We are too busy to stop on that road to Jericho, and help that person in need...

Human trafficking is real, and will not go away by our ignoring it.


Now I understand why I go to a chiropractor

Anxiety wants to be God but lacks God’s wisdom, power, or knowledge.

A godlike stance without godlike character and ability is pure tension.

Because anxiety is self on its own, it tries to get control.

It is unable to relax in the face of chaos.

Once one problem is solved, the next in line steps up.

The new one looms so large, we forget the last deliverance.


Wikipedia alert

James Marsh has been investigating this, and now it seems to have been proved...Wikipedia, in being an open forum, has been infiltrated by child porn insurgents


could not say it better myself

Reading again the book WHEN HELPING HURTS  by CHALMERS CENTER guys Steve and Brian, I was struck by just how radical their assesment of why we are here is.   This could change the behavior of Chrsitians as we know them ...er...us.

I tried to open the discussion a bit back in 8-19-2009, but these guys dare you to think it all again.

Read the first chapter , then go buy the book!


meditative links...take a minute to think on eternity

a friend just sent me this one,

and it reminded me of one of my favorite reflections on Jesus, by Pastor S.M. Lockridge....

the best version of which I found in a House Myx type thing about 20 years ago


Coffee is divine

I knew it, but now my friend, Isckra, sent me a story that confirms it.   Coffee is a great brew, and a great analogy.   Here is the story:

Carrot, Egg or Coffee?
A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved a new one arose.
Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water. In the first, she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs and the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil without saying a word.
In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her daughter, she asked, "Tell me what you see?"
"Carrots, eggs, and coffee," she replied.
She brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they got soft. She then asked her to take an egg and break it.
After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg.
Finally, she asked her to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled, as she tasted its rich aroma. The daughter then asked. "What's the point, mother?"
Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity--boiling water--but each reacted differently.
The carrot went in strong, hard and unrelenting. However after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But, after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened.
The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water they had changed the water.
"Which are you?" she asked her daughter. "When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?"
Think of this:  Which am I?
Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity, do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?
Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and a hardened heart?
Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you.
When the hours are the darkest and trials are their greatest do you elevate to another level?
How do you handle Adversity? ARE YOU A CARROT, AN EGG, OR A COFFEE BEAN?
Here is  my thought: to become useful in this way, the coffee had to be harvested, stripped of its beautiful fruit, roasted over an insufferable fire, and then crushed, to free the powerful essence from the hard shell.


more insane theology

Have you heard for Brian McLaren?   Dangerous man. 

 he says:

Here’s how I expressed the issue in the last chapter of A New Kind of Christianity:
As we’ve seen, the term Christianity (like its cousin orthodoxy) has too often camouflaged something quite foreign to Christ and his message, something that is more the problem than the solution: a fusion of Greek philosophy and Roman power, alloyed or adorned with elements drawn from the Bible, which is interpreted and applied in ways that often betray Jesus’ life and teaching. Its defenders have unofficially mandated that when people try to modify that Greco-Roman orthodoxy, they must wear an adjective that brands them as aberrant, like a scarlet “A” sewn on their soul. For example, when theologians read the Bible through the lens of the Exodus narrative, they are called “liberation theologians,” but their counterparts who read it through the Greco-Roman narrative are never labeled “domination theologians” or “colonization theologians.” Similarly, we have “black theology” and “feminist theology,” but Greco-Roman orthodoxy is never called “white theology” or “male theology.” Having become utterly normative for most of us, it’s just “theology.” (p. 256)

I don't get these guys...McClaren is a white man!   I mean, we try to do the Christian thing, and let the others in, and now they want to act as if they have the same privileges as us! And he says that's OK!!!

What do you think?

Here is his whole blog, from which I took the above quote, and you can see the context by hitting the links there.  But I'm telling you!!!  Don't let your friends of color read this!!!   Your relationship may never be the same again!


I have often wondered if Wikipedia is a good idea. 

OK as a forum, perhaps, but every time i see it quoted or cited in an online debate, I worry, as it almost seems like mob rule come to definitions.   and defining something is the way to control the actions within a society.

so, now, my fears have been shown to have some basis, in this blog by James Marsh


Scandalous theology

read this article, and tell me what you think. 

The audacity of saying that prostitutes and sex slaves might have insights into the nature of God, and even exegesis from the bible that the church could learn from, prove these authors are insane.


the social Justice debate goes Galactic

You may have heard some of Glenn Beck's comments regarding his advice to leave your church if they mention the words "Social Justice" .  He certainly mirrors many people who say Jesus is Lord.  Sadly, even as I have tried to listen, I get amazed at his ability to twist Scripture.  Then I am amazed that no one seems to want to refute him.

I was glad when I learned two things: 

1) That the Sojourner's blogosphere has stepped up to argue, including an offer by Jim Wallis, to have a face to face dialogue.

2) That Beck is Mormon.  Not that I want to dis Mormons.  I am just glad that the shame I felt when I thought him a fellow Evangelical or Catholic Christian is alleviated.

to keep it light, the folks at Sojourner's with way too much time on their hands, have taken actual unmanipulated statements by Glenn and Jim, and have created this April Fool's Video:  funny and poignant


lend me your ear

here is my talk at our Guatemalan missions conference

My point was to ask the questions we are afraid of asking...and leaving it at that

Missions is changing in many ways...listen up


a well spoken discussion

Rarely, I come across a discussion worth passing on. One where the people who most likely would benefit from it, are not already aware. I am at the slow end of the blogosphere!

Ta Da!

Oh, yeah...it is a discussion regarding the "Families for Orphans Act" currently on the back burners in Washington. in case you want to know before clicking the link ;-)



If you are like me, you still get a kick out of Larry Norman.

The little guy at his side may be the best musician of our time. Mike Roe

Lousy sound quality...I want the album, but no one seems to sell it after 20 + येअर्स

this one is my favorite whine


अ स्वीट स्टोरी ऑफ़ Grace

From our friends at CMT...

PURE SUGAR: Telling Stories of Grace

Last weekend was the culmination of a week filled with anger, pain and heartbreak that miraculously turned into a celebration of life.

Daniel Antonio Puac Calderón, 38 years old, was shot and killed this past Friday night as he was closing up his little cell phone store in Guatemala City. We all knew him simply as Azucar (Sugar). Anyone who has ever met Azucar and witnessed the way he sweetened his neighborhood understood immediately the rationale behind his nickname.

Azucar lived his life in one of the most infamous neighborhoods in Guatemala City called "Sakerti." Like so many others, he fell prey to the common traps of drugs, gangs and violence. A couple of years ago he hit the bottom and found himself at the drug rehabilitation program started and run by Pastor Erwin "Shorty" Luna. Shorty has been a core member of our missional community for many years in Guatemala City, and one of the chaplains in a demonstration project focused on incarcerated gang members.

It was through his relationship with Shorty that Azucar encountered the message of the Gospel. It radically and authentically transformed his life. He was warned by many not to go back to Sakerti for fear that his past would catch up with him, but like Esther he had an "if I perish I perish" attitude and felt compelled to go back to his neighborhood despite the inherent dangers of doing so.

Azucar opened up his home for a Bible study for four people in the neighborhood. After a few months those four people grew into a couple dozen and to make room in his home, Azucar simply knocked out a wall. A few months later when the numbers doubled again, he knocked out another wall to make more room.

On Friday night he was gunned down in the middle of the neighborhood that he loved. There are many speculations as to who did it and why, but a week after the killing there is no police investigation and no suspects in custody. As in virtually all violent homicides in Guatemala City amongst the poor and disenfranchized, impunity is all but assured for the perpetrators of such violence. It is maddening beyond measure.

At the funeral last Monday in the General Cemetery of Guatemala, six buses jammed to the gills carted some 300 residents of the Sakerti community who had come to say good-bye to a special man who truly has sweetened each of their lives. I joined the procession carrying the casket to its final resting place in a huge wall of grave markings. I recoiled in anger and wanted to scream BASTA YA (Enough is enough!). When will this violence ever stop? Where is justice in the face of such a terrible tragedy?

When the time of internment was concluded I lingered around the grave in the midst of that inner turmoil and met a friend of Azucar's who had been a hired killer before Azucar entered his life and showed him another way. I met another friend, Jairo, currently in the same drug rehabilitation program where Azucar had been given his second chance. Jairo shared with me how he had sustained his addiction for 25 years as a ringleader of a band of thieves that preyed on shop owners and small businesses. It was Azucar who had convinced him to leave that life and had personally brought him to meet Shorty and to get a new lease on life. At the memorial service this past Saturday night, I realized that these were just two of hundreds and hundreds of stories of people who had tasted the sweet sugar of scandalous grace as a result of the life of this one very special unsung hero in a very hard and "forsaken" neighborhood. As I left for my car after the funeral was finally done, Pastor Shorty wiped the tears from his eyes, embraced me and said, "Danny was pure sugar man, he was pure sugar."

I have no profound theological statements to share, just a deep sadness at the loss of an extraordinary life. Daniel Antonia Puac Calderon sweetened the lives of many in a forsaken and violent neighborhood called Sakerti and he paid for it with his life. His is a life story that will not be forgotten and a legacy that will be celebrated by those of us who were profoundly blessed to call him our friend and teacher.

Azucar represents the best of the grassroots leaders that we have the distinct honor and privilege of serving around the world. He will be profoundly missed.

Here is a three-minute tribute video made especially for Azucar's family and the Sakerti community. It was made by a friend who had the chance last year to meet Azucar, hear his story and walk through the streets of Sakerti with him. It was shown at his memorial service this past Saturday night.

Joel Van Dyke, CTM Latin American Director


सोमेतिमेस, यू जुस्त गोत्ता से दित्तो

I have no idea what is happening with my title, but what I wrote in English, says that sometimes you just have to say "ditto"

A dear friend I met in Knoxville TN sends out great bible studies...this one in particular struck me as a prophetic utterance that needs to be understood by all who call themselves Christian. Think about this:

Nothing shows us the absolute need of the New Birth and of the Holy Spirit Baptism and its work in our life so much as the Sermon on the Mount.


Matthew 5: 3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. 6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. 7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. 8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. 10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

These are not natural qualities. Nobody by birth and by nature is like this. But Jesus is saying that all Christians will manifest all of these characteristics. It is not right to say that some are meant to be "poor in spirit," and some are meant to "mourn," and some are meant to be "peacemakers," and etc. Every Christian must be all of them, and to manifest all of them--this is his character.

We cannot divide Christians into two groups-religious leaders and laity, exceptional Christians and ordinary Christians-one who makes a vocation of Christian life- and the man or woman who works in a factory, office, field, etc. There are distinctions of offices-Apostles, Pastors, Evangelists, but the Beatitudes are not a description of offices; they are a description of a Christian. They are the fundamental characteristics of the Christian.

In the New Testament Epistles we see how all believers are addressed. "Beloved of God, called to be saints (Romans 1:7); "called to be saints,.." (1 Corinthians 1:2); "to the Saints which are in Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 1:1).

We must face the fact that when we stand before God in the great Judgment Day we will be judged by the Sermon on the Mount. (John 12:48)


Luke 4:18

Break our hearts, Lord, break our hearts. For the lives lost in Haiti, each one loved by you, break our hearts. For those who have lost family members -- sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, wives, husbands, mothers, fathers -- break our hearts. For those who have lost homes and belongings, who sleep on the streets, break our hearts. For the crippling poverty that afflicts millions of Haitians, break our hearts. For our complicity in the sinful structures and systems that lead to oppression and injustice, break our hearts. For the state of your creation -- groaning for redemption and restoration -- break our hearts. And then put us back together so that with peace, humility, and your perspective, we might work toward seeing your kingdom on earth. Amen.


The Third Culture

Okay, I am officially joining the third culture

This is how Pastor Dave Gibbons puts it:

Third culture is about the fusion of multiple cultures, the art of adaptation, dialogue rather than dictation, diplomacy over strong arm tactics, and the embrace of discomfort as part of the journey to real community. Third culture is the mindset and will to love, learn and serve in any culture even in the midst of pain and discomfort. In short, 3rdCulture is PAINFUL ADAPTATION.

I learned a long time ago, that living in community really sucks! But it is the only way to really see if you can love your neighbor as yourself!

It Bears repeating

I was shocked as I read the statistics from ToyBox, a great group from England, who help us in Latin America.

Then I realized, that I am aware of each of these numbers. Having not compiled them like that, it just didn't strike me.

Indifference to the plight of our little brothers and sisters isn't a planned response. It is what naturally happens when we don't plan a response.

Because of the people that support the work that Shyrel does at Amor del Niño, one of the statistics is really close to home. The report said that every 4 days, a child is abandoned in the streets of Guatemala. Every 5th one of them has come to Amor. Shyrel wants to make that every other one...then every one.

The harvest is ripe. Pray to the Lord of the harvest for workers!!!


Praise the Lord

We are working on a number of ways to network people and projects in Guatemala. Somehow because of my big mouth, I am involved, and sort of representing the child care folks.

I am encouraged by a network of Pastors who are trying to be willing to answer John the Baptist's requirement for being prepared for the Kingdom. ( Luke 3:3) and hope to be working wiht them closely this year.

Cause for Praise!

Then, what do you think of the following thought? Leanard Cohen wrote many years ago the most haunting song I think I have ever heard, regarding God, Life and Love. I am a sucker for anyone singing Praise the Lord, even in that mixed up mix of languages where it comes out Halelujah. It has finally become pop, even heard in SHREK, and he seems to be touring too, and singing it everywhere.

Heretic or a modern inspired Song of Songster?

When asked what he thought of modern Christianity, he said this:

Leonard Cohen: I don't really have a 'take on the state
of Christianity.' But when I read your question, this answer came to
mind: As I understand it, into the heart of every Christian, Christ
comes, and Christ goes. When, by his Grace, the landscape of the heart becomes vast and deep and limitless, then Christ makes His abode in that graceful heart, and His Will prevails. The experience is recognized as Peace. In the absence of this experience much activity arises, divisions of every sort. Outside of the organizational enterprise, which some applaud and some mistrust, stands the figure of Jesus, nailed to a human predicament, summoning the heart to comprehend its own suffering by dissolving itself in a radical confession of hospitality.

What do you think? I really want ot know.


Congratulations, Norma!

You don't need to understand Spanish to get the point of the front page of the Prensa Libre.

Our good friend, Norma Cruz, was awarded the person of the year award.

Glad for her, but even gladder for the potential hope this gives to the people in Guatemala who stand up for Justice.

Pray for Norma!