Thursday, October 02, 2014

Update on Hope Scholarship House Malawi















From Rev. Copeland Nkhata, Mzuzu, Malawi:

Rev Michael,

This is the first team to benefit from revenue of the Hope Scholarship House built by WorldHope Corps and Mzuzu UMC.  

And it’s a great celebration that the house has now began to bear its desired fruit---school fees for our boys and girls for higher education. 




The picture above depict three boys and two girls in an accounting class at the UMC HOPE SCHOLARSHIP CENTRE MZUZU.

The boys are:
1.       Ganizan Nkhambule
2.       Jonathan Nzimah
3.       Joshua Walin-ase Nkhata

The girls are:
4.       Alice Mkandawire
5.       Eness Makamo

Please join me in this holy jubilee. I am proud of the awesome works of God and your untiring support in this regard.

The house now generates MWK 210 000.00 per quarter of a year [approx  $500], and that is what we paid for exam fees for five students to write exams with the Institute Of Chartered Accountants of Malawi for the December 2014 diet. (But we had to raise an extra amount for their registration.)

Pray that the vision grows so that we can educate many more young Malawians for the leadership of the church and for God’s Kingdom.


Love and regards.

Copeland Nkhata, Pastor
Mzuzu Circuit UMC


Sunday, September 14, 2014

ISIS on my mind, Lifting high the Cross

Went to bed last night and woke up this morning with ISIS on my mind. After another beheading, who can doubt that there is real Evil in the world? 

"Our warfare is not against human beings but principalities and powers..." (Ephesians 6:12)

Headed to Church at St Vincent Martyr in Madison, hoping for a prophetic word of peace.  Fr. Jose, who turned 35 this week, after the Processional Hymn--"Lift High the Cross"--announced that today was for Adoration of the Cross. 

The Cross of Christ, he said, "is a symbol of cruel torture, pain and suffering.  But it is also a symbol of Love."  He encouraged us to let the sign of the cross be a daily reminder of our connection to the suffering of Christ and the world, to let it be a feature of our life of prayer, of sacrifice and letting go, and the promise of peace, liberation and victory.

After partaking of the body and blood of Christ, we prayed together this prayer for peace through St Michael, the Archangel: 
"...be our protection against all evil.  Send your holy angels to protect and guide all those who suffer persecution. Strengthen their faith and enliven their hope.  Deliver them speedily from all danger...inspire world leaders to work effectively for peace in our day.  With your divine assistance, may we overcome violence with compassion, war with peace, and thus establish your law of love and justice on this earth. Amen!"


Liberation Spirituality: Henri Nouwen and Gustavo Gutierrez in Dialogue

Liberation Spirituality: Henri Nouwen and Gustavo Gutierrez in Dialogue







Lecture Notes:

Presented by Michael J. Christensen, Ph.D., Associate Professor in the Practice of Spirituality and Ministry, Drew University;  and International Director, Communities of Shalom, The United Methodist Church


Introduction

“There is a little man in Peru, a man without any power, who lives in a barrio with poor people and who wrote a book.  In this book he simply reclaimed the basic Christian truth that God became human to bring good news to the poor, new light to the blind, and liberty to the captives.  Then years later this book and movement it started is considered a danger by [the USA, or Rome], the greatest power on earth.  When I look at this little man, Gustavo, and think about [the President of the US, or the Pope], I see David standing before Goliath, again with no more weapon than a little stone, a stone called A Theology of Liberation (Henri Nouwen, Gracias!,1983, pp. 174-75)

This seminar draws water and wisdom from Gustavo Gutierrez, the “Father of Liberation Theology”, and one his most famous students, Henri Nouwen, acclaimed writer on the spiritual life, as they engage and reflect together on an emerging “liberation spirituality” for the people of God.  

Here are three Notions of Spirituality:

1.     “’Everyone has to drink from his own well’, observed St. Bernard of Clairvaux, who inspired many monastic orders.  Simply stated, each one of us must find our own well and drink the water of life that is right for us, both inside and outside the Cloister.

.     2. ’Everyone has to drink from his own well’… Yet no one drinks alone,” writes Henri Nouwen. “We all have drunk from wells we did not dig and enjoyed fresh water that is not entirely our own.”  Hence the need for community (Henri Nouwen, Discernment).  Simply stated: spirituality is not essentially personal, private or the product of individual pursuit and practice; rather, authentic spirituality is corporate and connected to all the people of God and practiced in community and compassionate ministry.

3.     “Spirituality is like living water that springs up in the very depths of the experience of faith,” writes Gustavo Gutierrez.  “To drink from your own well is to live your own life in the Spirit of Jesus as you have encountered him in your concrete historical reality.” (Gustavo Gutierrez, We Drink from Our Own Wells).  Simply stated: spirituality is not essentially personal, private, individualistic, or even the expression of community life; rather, authentic spirituality emerges from the struggle of the people of God and from the particular social context of that struggle for liberation.

So, how do we draw water and wisdom from our own personal experience of God, and our community of faith, and from the larger struggle of the people of God in the world as we seek the liberation of all?

Gustavo Gutierrez emerged as a popular theologian in Latin America in the late 1960’s, and represented Christianity as a “preferential option for the poor.” He became known as the “Father of Liberation Theology”--a practical theology and active faith born out of solidarity with common people and their struggles.  His books and courses became prophetic in liberation theology movements in Latin America and around the world.

Henri Nouwen attended one of Gustavo’s popular courses in Lima, Peru, in 1982. “I remember this course as one of the most significant experiences of my six-month stay in Latin America,” Nouwen writes in his journal.  What he learned from Gustavo was that “liberating spirituality” must be rooted in an active and reflective faith, and not a passive, private or privileged contemplative experience.

Although Nouwen remained critical of some aspects of Liberation Theology, what impressed him most was how Gustavo Gutierrez integrated mysticism and activism, the struggle for spiritual growth with the struggle for political freedom.  Although Gustavo remained critical of a purely personal, private, individualistic spirituality, he centered his own activist faith in a deeper spiritual and theological reflection. In the dialectic of Gustavo’s more activist faith and Henri’s more contemplative spirituality and, a new kind of liberationist spirituality was articulated which is reflected in Gustavo’s We Drink from Our Own Wells and Henri’s Foreword to the book.

Together, these two priests offer the world fresh perspectives on the “primordial waters of spiritual experience”–from oral tales and written texts, concrete lives and communities of faith–in the common struggle for freedom. “By dipping deeply into the well of our own lives [as the people of God], we can discern the movements of God’s Spirit in our lives,” writes Nouwen in Discernment (p. 170)

Liberation Spirituality is experienced in the creative tension, the life-giving dialectic, the quest for balance of praxis and theoria, action and contemplation.  
In a nutshell, that’s my seminar!  But it will take more time to crack that walnut.



PRESENTATION: Liberation Spirituality
by Dr. Michael J. Christensen, Ph.D.

Introduction

Check in

Part One:  We Drink from Our Own Wells

STORY  (Discernment:  pp 171-172)

Social Analysis and Biblical Reflection  (Exo 3)

PPT:  7 Elements of Liberation Spirituality

PART TWO   Discerning Vocation

Vocational Choices
  • What’s your Spiritual Type? 
  • Where are you on your journey?

Rule of One:  Action—Contemplation Continuum

Rule of Two:  Action Or Contemplation Dualism

Rule of Three:  Action-And-Contemplation Dynamic
  • ·      Contemplative Action
  • ·      Committed Contemplation


Conclusion:  Micah 6:8


Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Heading to Uganda on Sunday, January 5

Pastor Baaumu Moses of Uganda and the orphans in his care
Happy New Year, my friend!

One week from today, I will be  in Uganda with my friends and colleagues in ministry, Pastor Baaumu Moses, Br. Julius Kasaija, and Dennis Singini (from Malawi). 

We three (along with a mission group of 7 others from my church and community) will be on a two-week mission to help train over 200 coffee farmers, school teachers, seamstresses, and community workers in Shalom principles of economic community development.



We also will visit Fr. Paul and the St George Hope Health Centre which WorldHope Corps has supported for the past five years. 

Together, we will lend a hand to local projects, conduct two ShalomZone Trainings offer professional consultations, and engage in international friendship and cultural exchange.   We hope to give and to receive in a spirit of mutual ministry and "reverse mission." (Reverse mission, according to Henri Nouwen, happens when we offer the gifts we have to others and find that we ourselves have gained much more than we tried to give.)

You have contributed to WorldHope Corps in the past, and I am deeply grateful for your generous support!  Indeed, I could not take on these relief and development projects without you. 

If you will continue your support, WorldHope Corps can continue doing in 2014 what we have been doing since 2007 in Uganda, Malawi, and the Dominican Republic--economic community development projects focused on HIV/AIDS testing, training and care; clean water via Village Wells; community orphan care, educational scholarships; and helping poor farmers who grow good, organic, coffee and chocolate find an international market. 

I'll send you an annual report of our activities and projects at the end of January along with your annual receipt, but in the near term, I hope you will consider making another charitable contribution to WHC for 2013.  (Any online gift or check in the mail that arrives this week will be credited as a tax-deductiable donation for 2013.)

Here's a link to give online:   http://www.worldhopecorps.com/

And here's the link to mission updates on my worldHope Corps blog:  http://michael-christensen.blogspot.com/

Again, thank you for being a friend and supporter of this mission.

mjc

Michael J. Christensen, Ph.D.
Founder and CEO
WorldHope Corps, Inc.
P.O. Box 295
Madison, NJ 07940