Lets Get Lost in L.A.

January 25, 2010

After crazy rain for the past 3 days, the sun decided to take back the sky. Never seen LA so clearly before.

Spent the day in L.A. with friends at City-Labs, a non-profit fair, that some of my friends from LiNK and Krochet Kids were repping at. Other day activities: Diddy Rease, Pool, and longer-than-intended car rides.


Last night was one that I think I will remember for a long time.

I sat next to a homeless lady on a bench outside of Denny’s and talked to her for a little while (after explaining I didn’t have any smokes on me). Ms. Bench Lady proceeded to ask for some change from a lady coming out of the restaurant and I saw something that made my insides churn.

The woman coming out of Denny’s stared at Ms. Bench Lady like she was some sort of animal, no worse- like some sort of object that was so sickening that you can’t help but stare and want to spit. The look of contempt in her eyes made me shudder and feel instantly ashamed at the audacity that anyone could have such animosity towards a person who has so little.

It made me feel sick. So I asked her how it felt when people did that to her.

“Ridiculous”

“What’s your story” I asked. We all have stories to tell.

“I was stolen as a kid”

What’s worse, is that I didn’t do anything for that lady that night. It took one of my good buddies to initiate another conversation that lead to her getting a meal, and a meal for another lady, Michelle, as well. God continued to open up doors and opportunities to love on the people that live on the street in this area and a group stayed in L.A. until about 3 in the morning, and then went back this afternoon and stayed until around 11. Their stories are incredible and I wish I could write about it all. If you get the chance ask Chris, Tess, Hannah, Jessicah and Lisa about their night. The stories and their pure hearts towards these people will move you to do something as well… I know it did for me.

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The Way I See It #3

August 17, 2009

It is not our job to save Africa.

Nowhere in any of my readings or my experiences on the ground in many parts of Africa, or any other impoverished nation for that matter, have I heard the words come out of someone’s mouth indicating that us Westerners should save them.

Imagine for a moment that there is little kid that just jumped off the diving board into the deep end of your pool. Now, if that kid is drowning, then yes you should save him. It is the same in situations like disasters or extreme famine. Sometimes there is going to be a situation that calls for emergency relief. It is going to be the responsibility for rich nations to come a long side and provide that relief.

But go back to that little kid in the pool. Even if he hadn’t been drowning, or in dire need of help, he may be in a situation where he needs a little encouragement. Maybe he doesn’t know how to swim correctly, or he’s tired of swimming. Now is when it is our job to come alongside of him and help. The same applies for how we should help those who can’t “swim” for themselves. We should never be so arrogant that we stand on the sideline with our list of reviews and economic outlines and dictate what these countries should do in order for them to get out of poverty, or even on a more personal note, tell a family what they are doing wrong.

Do you know what that says? It’s says, “I’m better and smarter than you, why don’t you just listen to me and do exactly what I tell you to do.” I don’t know about you, but I never want to hear that from someone, even if it was my older brother.

No. Instead, a relationship should be at the center and we come alongside of those that are in need and help them swim to the edge of poverty, and provide assistance when asked for. There is a popular African concept called ‘ubuntu’ that describes this act of working together perfectly. Archbishop Desmond Tutu gives this definition of Ubuntu:

A person with Ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed.

One may completely disagree with me and this mindset of not being able to “save” an impoverished country, but I believe this is one reason why we keep on screwing things up.

Many people have this mindset that we should just throw money at the issue and eventually it will get fixed. In fact a lot of people think this way.

This is a problem.

It’s hard to not fall for this too, especially when you have economists talking to you about all the logistics of what so much money can do, and their charts and pie graphs look all cool and colorful, but most common folk don’t even know what they mean and tend to fall for the technical language of those that we entrust to just solve the problem, because it sounds like they got it in control.

You see I feel like one mistake that a lot of organizations make is that we know what’s best for those that are in poverty.

We impose our own culture, values, and expectations on other people that we see fit to try and save.

How do we change this? How do we get to the point where we see tangible results of aid but also a positive correlation with the treatment of human dignity that every human holds?

I just think it is very, very easy for us to get so separated from this issue, and in most cases, we are. Working with Dry Tears, an organization that provided clean drinking water for communities that previously didn’t have it, I would catch myself being more excited in the fact that we had been drilling all of these wells, not the fact that that the one kid I met in the village of Bonzan, Burkina Faso is now in school and is healthier as a result of the clean water. It’s extremely easy to lose focus of why we want to help people.

Sometimes it becomes all about us helping people and earning that credit, when rather it should be about us putting down our egos and helping people because we realize the full of impact of “ubuntu”. When we realize that we as humans are walking through life together.

There’s much to learn from the Christian community, and even though I myself is a part of it, even we could learn this lesson a bit better. The Christian community considers itself to be the Body of Christ. That as a church, there are different purposes for each person but yet they are working for the same results. And being apart of this body, each person should hurt when someone else is hurting, rejoice when someone else is rejoicing, and help pick up those who have fallen down.

But why does this only have to be a Christian understanding? Why can’t the secular world view people as their brothers and sisters rather than a liability, or a way for personal gain and to exploit? We exploit those that are in poverty, sometimes even when our intentions are to help them.

That’s just the way I see it…

The Last Hoorah

August 10, 2009

I just got back a few days ago from Gulf Shores with four of my really close friends and it was awesome. The same four guys are also co-founders of Dry Tears. The week was filled with a ton of fun and we were not only able to have a blast all hanging out one last time before we all split ways for college but it was good to talk about Dry Tears and the future, etc. And needless to say, we are excited about what God is going to do with it.

But here’s some pictures of our beautiful view from Logan’s beach house deck and a picture of poor Kyle Blakely’s uneven burn..

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Embracing Accusations

August 8, 2009

“Embracing Accusations” by Shane and Shane could possibly be my all time favorite song. It gives me goose bumps every time I listen to it and soak in the truth of the words they sing. It’s like, so many times we beat ourselves over the head for sinning, or maybe not reading your bible or something so trivial, and we believe this lie that we are useless and don’t deserve to even enter into prayer with the Holy One. Then what was the cross for? It’s easy to believe this lie, but you can’t stop at embracing the accusation but like the end of the song says, “Jesus saves”. Believe it, it’s really the only thing that matters.

The father of lies
Coming to steal
Kill and destroy
All my hopes of being good enough
I hear him saying cursed are the ones
Who can’t abide
He’s right
Alleluia he’s right!

The devil is preaching
The song of the redeemed
That I am cursed and gone astray
I cannot gain salvation
Embracing accusation

Could the father of lies
Be telling the truth
Of God to me tonight?
If the penalty of sin is death
Then death is mine
I hear him saying cursed are the ones
Who can’t abide
He’s right
Alleluia he’s right!

Oh the devil’s singing over me
An age old song
That I am cursed and gone astray
Singing the first verse so conveniently over me
He’s forgotten the refrain
Jesus saves!

The Way I See It #2

July 31, 2009

Ignorance is bliss.

It’s a common saying, but so true. It’s probably nice to not know about the issues of the world. To know that the shoes you wear were probably made by kids in a sweatshop. The chocolate you eat by forced labor. The clean water you drink being so exceptionally rare and hard to come by for 1.1 billion people. The fact that there’s 27 million slaves, many of those children. Blood diamonds, to minerals stripped from the Congo fueling the ever long conflict that has been the deadliest conflict since WWII, to the genocide of Darfur, to the oppression of basic human freedoms in many parts of the world such as Burma and Tibet. It’s easy when you don’t know about the AID/HIV epidemic or the malaria that kills thousands everyday.

Ignorance is bliss.

Unfortunately, I’m not blissful. And it’s for this reason that I can’t give up and you can’t give up. It’s exhausting really. I’m a realist, but I also view things in the light of what they could be ideally. And being part-idealist is tiring, but as long as there is something that I can do about it, I will. As long as there is something that I can stand up for, I will. And there’s nothing more encouraging than having good friends who have the same heart as you do and want to help as well. A good friend of mine puts it perfectly when he says this:

“If you came to help me, you are wasting your time, but if you came because your liberation is bound together with mine, then let us walk together.”

That’s the way i see it.

lake sammamish

July 26, 2009

This is my breath taking view from my Uncle Brian’s house right now.

I love Seattle.

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“Friends are like bras: close to your heart and there for support.”

My good friend Kyle Blakely and I drove up to Memphis to pick up a few friends, drove to Cleveland, MS to go to a friend’s wedding, then spoke at a church in Louisville, MS

Friday night consisted of great fellowship, donuts, coffee, and some extra fun and bonding time that neither of us expected but made our night.

Saturday night consisted of a beautiful wedding, fun after-party, car full of mosquitos, 4 rabid dogs, too much coffee resulting in both of us being extremely paranoid.

Sunday: church, church, pretending to play tennis, going to the lake, and then a church service that had to go on for 40 minutes, God showing up, 5-hour energy shots and multiple coffees and bathroom breaks.

total cups of coffee consumed: 25

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Gye Nyame

July 13, 2009

One of my best friends, Logan Weber, just got a tattoo today. It is the Ghanaian symbol for “except God”. It’s meaning symbolizes the supremacy of God and how there is nothing like Him.

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The Way I See It #1

October 30, 2008

The other day I heard someone asking his friend, “if a polar bear and a grizzly bear got in a fight, who would win?”

I think it would the polar bear. His name alone sounds like he would pretty moody. He would probably chug an ice cold Coke, smash it over the Grizzly’s head then crack open another one.

What do you think?