social justice

chicken sandwichThe following is something I posted today on the Tyson Hunger Relief  Blog written by Ed Nicholson.  It was brought to my attention by Steve Thomas on his blog.  Ed asks if “hunger is boring”

Ed-  I was reading one of my favorite blogs by Oneicity‘s Steve Thomas and he directed me to your  post.  Awesome question!

Maybe it’s not “boredom” by “guilt” that stifles the discussion?  We just don’t want to talk about it, and it’s easier to buy our way out with a donation here and sponsorship there.

My good friend Ken Loyd, of in Portland has created a community of his “friends who live outdoors” and part of what he and his supporters do is help with needs like food and clothing.

A major difference I’ve noticed with Ken is that he treats the people he serves like customers!  He  refuses to give them what he wants them to have…he actually goes into the streets and asks what they want.  I remember watching Ken created a donor funded prototype he called a “Space Bag”, a mylar bag that would contain the basic calorie an nutrition contents for a day.  Ken spent weeks “test marketing” items to put in the bag, until he had a mix he knew would be a hit.

Now, doesn’t that put some excitement into feeding?  Give us back the challenge and the relationship part of marketing.  Help us see our poor or hungry as customers.  Give them the respect they deserve and God’s created.

PS:  on that topic, the book “The Blue Sweater” by the Acumen Fund’s Jacqueline Novogratz paints a marvelous picture of how to meet the needs in the Third World through principles of entrepreneurship.  It makes feeding and serving anything but BORING!

social justice

Ken Loyd checking or the winter meeting place for home.pdx

Ken Loyd checking or the winter meeting place for home.pdx

April 30, 2007

Yesterday my daughter, Mary, went to a church in Portland called “The Bridge”*. I went to a church in Portland that met under the Hawthorne bridge** called “Home.pdx”. “Home” was the name chosen by a handful of young people who don’t live in houses and who are the make up of this church. They wanted to call their new church “Home” because that’s what it represented to them. My friend Ken Loyd, the pastor of “Home”, had come up with a very clever and edgy name for this edgy gathering, because Portland is an ‘edgy” city. But he was overruled. “Home” is it.

It was a nice Sunday, except for the reoccurring thoughts of injustice.

The church I normally go to is full of really nice people, most of whom live in really nice houses, and I don’t think any of them live outside so they don’t need to name their church “Home.”

The kids who don’t live in houses and attend Home are very poor. Last month my son Willy and I went to Ghana where we went to church with a lot of really wonderful, and really poor people. Those people, poor as they are, all live in houses. And are definitely NOT poor in spirit.

I thought about injustice a lot. What would it be like if you we’re 14, 15, 18 or so and had to choose to live at home or live on the street, and you chose to live on the street because the street was safer?

Later the same day back in Seattle, Mary and I joined my son Willy as we celebrated by first granddaughter, Carmen’s, second birthday. We celebrated inside the nice warm home of my Daughter Sandra and her husband Rob. Carmen was surrounded by her paternal grandparents, Bob and Mary Ann Gray who love and protect her. Along with her aunt, my other daughter Victoria and her husband Jose, who love and protect her. Carmen’s younger cousin, my other granddaughter, Lily was there. I suspect Carmen and Lily will grow up to love and protect each other. Carmen and Lily have lots of family who will love and protect them.

What would it be like if you knew the street was where you could trust your fellow street dwellers to look after you more than you could trust the people back at what was supposed to be your home? And supposed to by your family. Injustice really sucks.

The Bridge Church where Mary attended is different in some ways and the same in others. Most of those people live in houses. Some even own homes, which is a recent development. Some of them learned about loving a protecting each other my learning about Jesus by being in community at The Bridge. The Bridge is meeting in a rented hall that costs way too much each week to rent. They do this because they can’t afford a building. This kind of thing happens to poor people a lot. They have to pay more or make a choice that is not financially in their favor just because they are poor. They people who are not poor wonder why poor people are “so bad with the their money”.

The church I usually go to is about to build a brand new building. It’s going to be very nice. We have most of the money already. It don’t think that’s an example of injustice, but if I was one of the people pouring my life into the people of “Home” under the bridge, or The Bridge under the gun for a place to meet, I would be forced to wonder even more about injustice.

I really love my friends Ken and Deborah who started and respectively pastor both these churches. I’m sure that from time-to-time they ask God the injustice questions, too. But most of the time they get up, pray, love each other, then do without much for themselves so they can keep on helping these young people who’s poverty breaks Gods heart.

Wondering about injustice is OK, I think. Doing something about it is OK, as well.

At least that what Jesus teaches us.

*The Bridge Church is a powerful metaphor for “connecting people”, spanning gaps in generations and cultures, crossing over to the other side, and of course an architectural feature very connected to Portland.

** Bridge—An actual structure (the Hawthorne Bridge in downtown Portland) that serves as the current meeting place for a gathering of friends known as home.pdx. Pretty nice on a warm spring day. I hope they still don’t have to meet there on those bone-chilling, soggy Portland days in November

social justice

School boy in Kumasi, celebrating Ghana's 50th year of independence

School boy in Kumasi, celebrating Ghana's 50th year of independence

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

“At long last, the battle has ended. And Ghana your beloved country is free Forever.”
Dr. Kwame Nkrumah March 6, 1957

One of my favorite memories is of our friend and Ghana host Pastor Emmanuel from Ghana walking along side the Island Church rock band float in the Bainbbridge Grand Old 4th of July parade. He was dressed in red, white and blue and had great fun passing out logo’d water bottles celebrating this bit of Americana, perhaps more than anyone else in the crowd.

For those of us who grew up in the States with 200+ years of freedom the significance of our annual celebration can become dulled by familiarity.

This past Tuesday in Kumasi, Ghana my traveling partners and I had the privilege to celebrate another country’s freedom.

We decked ourselves out in red, yellow and green with the Ghana “Black Star” as we joined throngs of Kumasi revelers gathered around the green of Kwami Nkrumah University of Science and Technology . The occasion of all the hooting and hollering was a nation-wide celebration of Ghana’s 50 years of independence on March 6, 2007.

What we in America did by force in 1776, the Ghanians did in peace in 1957. They sent the British colonizers packing. Ghana was the first colony in Africa south of the Sahara to become independent. The past 50 years in Ghana have seen some ups and downs, coupes, famines and great difficulties, but through it all the strong and proud people of Ghana have creating a working democracy and have begun rescuing the failing economy their Colonizers left them with. It’s a great story and it’s not finished. (To get a taste of the celebration visit the official web site:
For weeks the city of Kumasi prepared, for the celebration with most businesses festooned with the Ghana colors (there will be a lot of red, yellow and green dresses in someone’s future) we well as sprucing-up projects like curb painting, neighborhood clean-ups and the like. Street side vendors sold commemorative cards to be worn on ribbons around the neck (their version of a Seafair pin fundraiser). School children from the large cities to the small villages practiced marching and drill routines for the big parades.

When the time came for us to join the crowd, our friend Frank was able to get us onto the parade grounds right up to the white chalk line that separated the crowds from the participants. I don’t know how Frank pulls this stuff off, but I’m very glad he’s on our team! What a view! We were taken from spectators to participants.

One school boy, about 11 years old, asked me if we ever did anything like this in American and I was able to share with him that both counties have a common heritage of being freed British colonies. He was amazed and proud. So was I. We need to look deep into our roots to see just how far we have come. And like our friends in Ghana, look into the future to see how far we have to go. Both counties can have a bright future, but we need to remember where we came from and the fact that freedom is never free.

The colors of Ghana fly proudly over Buckingham Palace with Big Ben in the background during the week of Ghana’s 50th anniversary of independence from the British Empire.

The colors of Ghana fly proudly over Buckingham Palace with Big Ben in the background during the week of Ghana’s 50th anniversary of independence from the British Empire.