Tuesday, November 27, 2007

March Mission Trip to Malawi

Next Mission Trip to Malawi, Africa
March 4-15, 2008

Sponsored by: CitiHope International

Led by: Dr. Michael J. Christensen, Drew University, and Rev. Paul S. Moore, President, CitiHope International

DATES: March 4-15, 2008

Travel Plan: Depart JFK on Tuesday, March 4 for Johannesburg to arrive in Lilongwe, Malawi, on March 6; Return on Friday, March 14, and arrive JFK early on Friday, March 15 (10 days).

Destination: Malawi, a small land-locked, developing country of 12 million people bordering Zambia, Tanzania and Mozambique, is particularly vulnerable to famine and disease, and suffers from extreme poverty and AIDS. The March Mission Trip will carry out its mission in and around Mzuzu City in Northern Malawi where CitiHope Malawi operates relief and development programs from its mission center located in the heart of Mzuzu City.

Mission: To raise hope in vulnerable communities through cross-cultural relationships, “reverse mission” and the ministry of presence. The mission team will engage in relational and supportive activities with vulnerable children, youth and families in need in some of the 40+ schools, hospitals, social service agencies, and village community development projects supported by CitiHope International.

Reverse Mission: Our service team will focus its activities on being present in communities need and to vulnerable persons, who have their gifts to share. By focusing our mission of help and hope on relational support and being with those who are economically poor, we hope to fulfill a ministry of presence (God’s presence through us) which may result in our own spiritual transformation. Henri Nouwen calls this “reverse mission.” In encountering the rich spirit of Christ in those whom we would serve, we ourselves are transformed in the process. A good way to prepare for the trip is to read Henri Nouwen’s book Gracias to deepen your understanding of “reverse mission.” Other reading material will be recommended to team members preparing for the trip.

Projects and Objectives: Conduct PACCT IV HIV/AIDS training program, organize new “shalom zone” and facilitate volunteers in mission.

Activities: The delegation will engage in daily mission activities with CitiHope staff and ministry partners, visit selected ministry sites, and explore with local experts some social justice issues affecting Malawians, including the AIDS pandemic, extreme poverty and tropical disease, and globalization. Specifically, we will undertake the following activities:

1. Visit at least one Orphan Care Center and help feed 300+ Malawian orphans (toddlers thru teenagers) and abandoned children their daily meal, joining them in recreational and educational activities
2. Deliver nutritional food products as part of CitiHope’s R.I.C.E. food aid program in the hospitals, schools, churches, and social service agencies
3. Visit one of the HopeHomes caring for AIDS orphans sponsored by CitiHope
4. Visit patients in rural clinics and others prisoners in Mzuzu Central Prison, delivering food, medicine and hygiene supplies
5. Help dig a village well and dedicate other village wells recently installed by CitiHope as part of community development projects
6. Help organize a new ‘shalom zone” for relief and development
7. Worship with our Malawian brothers and sisters on Sunday in church

Local Ministry Partners: CitiHope International, Mzuzu United Methodist Church, Presbyterian Synod of Livingstonia, Malawi

Accommodations: In Johannesburg, en route to Malawi, we will stay overnight in a hotel near the airport. In Malawi, we will stay together in a Guest House near the CitiHope Mission Center in Mzuzu. Most rooms are double rooms, simple and clean, with shared bathrooms. Single supplements are available if needed.

Meals: Group meals in transit and in Malawi are included in the price of the trip.

Cost: For international travel, hotel and guest house accommodations, in-country travel, group meals, and hospitality expense, the total budget for this 10 day trip to Africa is $3,000 per person , payable to CitiHope International as a tax-deductible donation.

Funding: Although no scholarships are available from CitiHope International, team members are encouraged to request mission funds from their local church which can be channeled through CitiHope International. CitiHope also has offered to support individual or group fund-raising efforts by receiving designated mission trip contributions and issuing tax-deductible receipts for donations. A sample “appeal letter” is available by request that can be adapted and sent to family members and friends.

Availability: Limited to 12 mission-minded people who have previously donated to CitiHope International, with priority given to official representatives of local churches and organizations that help sponsor CitiHope programs in Malawi.

Who Should Participate? Service-minded people of good faith and good will who share a concern for orphans and widows in Africa and who want to do their part to help end extreme poverty and AIDS in the world in our lifetime. To get a sense of the mission at hand, visit Dr. Christensen’s mission blog: http://michael-christensen.blogspot.com

Those who cannot go on this particular trip but want to participate through financial support are invited to donate to CitiHope International www.citihope.org

Deposit Required: A $250 deposit with application is required by December 31, 2007, to reserve a space, with the total amount due before February 1, 2008.

Disclaimers: CitiHope International is prepared to receive and host visiting groups to Malawi, but accepts no corporate liability for mission team organization, travel or activities.

Next Step: Request an application/information form (available via email) which must be completed and returned before January 1, 2008, with the $250 deposit payable to CitiHope International and sent directly to
Dr. Michael Christensen
11 Ardsleigh Dr.
Madison, NJ 07940.

The team will remain in touch by email and meet once (by phone or face to face) in February to discuss final trip preparations and assess team dynamics before departing for Africa on March 4. For further information, contact Dr. Christensen at mchriste@citihope.org or 973-408-3738.

Background: CitiHope International began medical aid and food security programs in Malawi in 2003, in partnership with the Presbyterian Synod of the Livingstonia—the spiritual legacy of David Livingstone. By supplying protein-fortified nutrition and food security for vulnerable and orphaned children, delivering life-saving medicine to hospitals and rural clinics, and providing Pastoral and Congregational Care Training (PACCT) in AIDS prevention and care in congregations and communities suffering from AIDS, CitiHope staff and volunteers are able to provide help and hope in Malawi.

Prayerfully count the cost and consider joining us.
It will change your life and make a difference in the world!

Charitable contributions can be sent to
CitiHope International
P.O. Box 38
Andes, NY 13731

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thanksgiving 2007

San Diego: Family gathered.

Celebrated Mom's 80th birthday!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Shane Claiborne speaks to Methodists

Fort Worth, Texas: I attended a terrific conference this weekend on the theme of Micah 6:8--"God has revealed what is required us: to seek justice, love kindness and walk humbly with your God." The highlight for me was hearing Shane Claiborne talk to social justice types who specialize in confronting sytemic social ills on a political level, and say prophetically: "If you want to confront poverty, you have to know the names of poor people..." Here's a link to summary in United Methodist Reporter, and pasted below:

Energized for justice: Living Faith conference celebrates UM ministries

Bill Fentum, Nov 9, 2007


A banner at the Living Faith, Seeking Justice conference showed support for Step It Up 2007’s National Day of Climate Action, Nov. 3.
By Bill Fentum
Staff Writer

FORT WORTH, Texas—It’s easy to give in to despair on the front lines of social-justice ministry. Supporting workers’ rights, immigration reform or environmental concerns puts you at perpetual odds with others in the church.

The solution? Take a sabbatical, now and then.

About 700 United Methodist clergy and lay leaders from around the world re-energized each other Nov. 1-4 at Living Faith, Seeking Justice, a first-ever international conference sponsored by the General Board of Church and Society.

They worshipped together, celebrated victories and went to workshops taught by experts in dozens of fields—from hunger relief and war resistance to death-penalty abolition and abuse recovery. Some visited local ministries, including PACT House (Parents and Children Together), a networking and referral service for families of prison inmates.

“Justice ministries don’t just give us Band-Aids. They go after the root causes of social ills,” said Brian Heymans, a member of University United Methodist Church in Austin, Texas, during a workshop. “If you’re standing by a raging river, and you see baby after baby being washed away, do you focus on rescuing a few of them?

“Of course not. You go upstream to keep them from falling in.”

Mr. Heymans recently helped launch the Amos Commission, a program aimed at involving all Austin District churches in justice work. It’s named for the Old Testament prophet who called for repentance at a time when Israel’s leaders were getting rich off the labor of peasants.

“It fell to Amos to preach harsh words in a smooth season,” Jim Winkler, top executive of the Board of Church and Society, told attendees. “Most of us don’t relish confronting principalities. But just as sheep need a shepherd, people of wealth have a responsibility to those in poverty.”

The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection (COR) in Leawood, Kan., stepped in eight years ago after public schools in nearby Kansas City, Mo., lost their state accreditation. COR, one of the denomination’s largest congregations, stayed in touch with individual teachers, provided supplies for all students and refurbished one of the schools.

The Rev. Adam Hamilton, COR’s senior pastor, said members felt called to act after he preached a sermon reminding them the first public school in Kansas City started in the basement of Westport Methodist Church in 1854.

“That, I think, is the power of the pulpit,” he said in an interview. “A prophet comes in and basically fires away, and there’s a place for that. But if you’re a pastor, your goal is to gently lead the people you’re shepherding. It means using tact and wisdom to influence rather than irritate.”

Not every issue, he added, can be unpacked in a single sermon.

Before the war in Iraq began in 2003, Mr. Hamilton drafted a position paper to share with members, explaining why he didn’t believe an invasion would meet just-war criteria. Then he posted it on the church Web site, inviting the congregation to read and discuss it.

“Recognize that Christians can disagree on issues,” he told participants in a plenary address. “Then, instead of feeling like they’ve been abused from the pulpit, they’ll be more open to listening—though some people may leave.”

Forty years of membership decline in the United Methodist Church has kept clergy fearful of anything that “rocks the boat,” conference speakers said, even on positions made clear in the denomination’s Social Principles.

“But not to take sides is to side with those in power,” the Rev. Janet Wolf, a United Methodist minister and social-justice advocate, said during a sermon. “People are supposed to look on us and say, ‘You know, they’re Jesus people. Nobody else loves like that.’”

Christian activist Shane Claiborne traveled in his early 20s to Calcutta, India, where he worked alongside the late Mother Teresa. Coming home to Philadelphia, he felt driven by her words, “If we really care about the poor, we know their names.”

So in 1997, he co-founded The Simple Way, a faith community of young adults that serves the city’s poorest residents. Members take part-time jobs to keep things running, and live off of $150 a month per person.

When Philadelphia officials passed laws making it illegal for homeless people to sleep or eat in public places, The Simple Way hosted a worship service in Love Park. They prayed with the homeless, sang, then “broke bread” by ordering pizzas for them. Mr. Claiborne and others went to trial, but they were acquitted and the laws were overturned.

“I walked into court wearing a shirt saying, ‘Jesus was homeless,’” Mr. Claiborne told attendees. “The judge asked me what I meant by that, and I told him that Jesus said ‘foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.’ The judge smiled and said, ‘You guys might have a chance.’”

Mr. Claiborne, who was raised a United Methodist, said he’s “madly in love with Jesus. But there’s a part of me that shudders, because I never know what he’s going to get me into next!”

In another plenary, Dr. Harold Recinos, a professor of church and society at Perkins School of Theology in Dallas, said discrimination persists in the U.S., particularly against immigrant communities, because of xenophobia fueled by books like Peter Brimelow’s Alien Nation (Harper, 1996).

Mr. Brimelow, a British-American journalist, urges tightening border security, reducing legal immigration and ending free education for children of undocumented workers.

“I know a lot of Mexican Americans who are more American than Mr. Brimelow,” Dr. Recinos said. “This kind of scholarship only gives rise to hate.”

Fear of immigration, he added, reminds him of the two disciples meeting the resurrected Jesus on the road to Emmaus, but not immediately recognizing him.

“It wasn’t until they broke bread with this stranger that they saw the truth,” he said. “Would that we would do the same when we see the undocumented in our midst. God’s reign comes in simple fellowship with strangers.”

United Methodists shouldn’t separate ministries of justice from their call to share God’s love with the world, said Mr. Hamilton, pastor of Church of the Resurrection.

“If we work for social justice without practicing evangelism, we’re only offering half a solution. You’d better lay hold of both, and approach the gospel in a way that puts your head, heart and hands into ministry.”

Justice-making is all about “watching for the gaps” between faith and action, just as you would be careful when boarding or getting off a train, said the Rev. Elizabeth Tapia, director of the Center for Christianities in Global Context at Drew Theological School in Madison, N.J.
“And when you find those gaps,” she told participants, “remove them.

“Sociologists say it takes only 5 percent of a country’s population to change a society. You belong to that 5 percent.”