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Showing posts from 2008

Shalom Report:-- 4th Quarter 2008

In summary: we consolidated the Shalom network based at Drew and resourced Shalom conferences and sites nationally; built a national Shalom team comprised of staff, interns, and consultants; organized regional and conference Shalom trainings; equipped conference coordinators to equip their local Shalom sites; identified and nurtured new national training partner; found new ways to communicate and promote the Shalom brand of community development; produced Fall Nexus newsletter; continued planning process and trajectory work with Duncan Associates; and found seed funding for two new sites.

Building the Team:

• Attended monthly meetings with staff at GBGM as our major national partner of Shalom at Drew, and attended their national leadership training conference in Phoenix focused on online presence and organizational development. Met with the Advance Office staff and Assistant General Secretary for communications to coordinate Shalom branding and promotion. Met with Health and Welfare sta…

Shabbat Shalom

'Shabbat Shalom'שבת-שלום

"Shabbath"-שבת is the Hebrew word for "Sabbath." Saturday, "Shalom"-שלום means peace, welfare, health and wholensess. Shalom is also a greeting that means both "hello" and "goodbye," similar to the Hawaiian "Aloha" and the Indian "Namaste". Hence, "Shabbath shalom" is a greeting for the sabbath Saturday. Thus the person saying "Shabbat shalom" is wishing you a good and peaceful Sabbath filled with health and wholeness.

Communities of Shalom is a multicultural, interfaith network of community development sites in the USA and Africa committed to waging peace and welfare in their particular communities and neighborhoods. Initiated by the United Methodist Church, Communities of Shalom is somewhat of a movement--a grassroots movement that aligns assets and mobilizes resources, not a program that depletes funds and requires a bail out. Shalom offers hope for communit…

Let the Work of Christmas Begin

Howard Thurman was a mystic poet, pastor, theologian, and civil rights leader who founded the Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples in San Francisco, California. It was the first racially integrated, intercultural church in the United States.

Here's one of his poems:

The Work of Christmas

When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among brothers,
To make music in the heart.

by Howard Thurman

Hope Home Orphan Care Report for November

My Friends: I beg you to remember the poor during this season of sharing. We are in the midst of a global recession that affects not only the USA but the world, and especially developing countries. I left my heart, as you know, in Malawi among the one million AIDS orphans and abandoned and vulnerable children and youth who suffer from food shortages and the ravages of AIDS (not just a dip in their retirement funds).

We are now caring for 80+ orphaned, abandoned and vulnerable children and youth (OVC) at Mzuzu United Methodist Church--in a wood and thatch sanctuary that holds about 100 people on Sunday and throughout the week.

Please join me in giving thanks for the fact that these kids are still alive and well, thanks to so many of you who continue to send a gift from time to time to WorldHope Corps, Inc. to sponsor a kid or help with the general need. Together, we are feeding 60-90 kids every day, supplying warm blankets during the rainy season, helping with some medical needs, an…

Muslim Feast of Sacrifice (Eid al-Adha)

I had never gone to such a feast before, but when Levent invited my family and me to join his Muslim community and interfaith friends to their Feast Day at the end of the holy season of Eid, in commemoration of father Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son (Ishmael), I responded with enthusiasm.

Levent Koç, Ph.D. is Executive Director of the Interfaith Dialog Center in New Jersey, and his organization has sponsored interfaith events at Drew and elsewhere, and takes people on cross-cultural trips to Turkey. In so doing, this progressive Muslim community helps us find common ground among the three Abrahamic religions in the spirit of shalom/salaam/peace.

About 75 people of good faith gathered in Carlstadt for the Feast of Sacrifice. Together, we shared in a common meal and gave thanks for the Lord’s provision of a ‘ram in the thicket’ as a substitutionary sacrifice instead of Abraham’s son—the sacred story of how the ancient people of God learned that human sacrifice is not requ…

Solidarity Sunday in Newark--March for Peace

It was cold and wet today in Newark. Yet the Solidarity Sunday March for Hope and Peace went on as scheduled as people gathered under umbrellas at City Hall and walked in groups to Lincoln Park for the rally. Ministers, Street Warriors, representatives of community-based organizations and associations, and local political leaders had their turn to speak out about how best to end the violence in the city; and soloists and choirs sang in the rain. Before the event concluded, at least 500 people showed up from the city and the suburbs as an act of solidarity and the spirit of Hope and Peace.

What follows is Dave Kerr's report on the event:

One way to look at Solidarity is simple: what can do in love for others. There are problems but let's not spend a lot of time finding out who is at fault. First, let's help the one who is hurt and work together in solidarity to prevent the problem from happening again and hurting others. Let's work to heal rather than hurt. Let'…

Peace March Objectives

Here's a note from Dave Kerr, one of the organizers of Sunday's March for Peace and Solidarity:

Again we encourage and give thanks for the support of suburban faith based groups. Our Newark brothers and sisters are battered by violence and addiction and homelessness needing your prayers and mentoring and support.

We hope that you will attend this grass roots Solidarity movement on the 30th. We will meet at Newark City Hall on the afternoon of November 30th at 1:30pm marching to Lincoln Park for the rally at 2pm, even and especially on Thanksgiving Sunday.

Pastoral Care Response – Parents, families, and the community are working to overcome their grief at the loss of a loved one. The faith community will work to share that burden each time loss of life occurs in the city. This effort will strengthen families and provide a visible response to those working through their loss. The clergy would also expect to be a leading presence as citizens, community leaders, government off…

Opportunity for Civic Engagement in Newark

Friends of Shalom:

Read the article below from Tuesday's Star Ledger on the Peace and Solidarity March in Newark this Sunday afternoon, November 30th, in the aftermath of a new wave of street violence in the city and about the need for hope and peace.

My family and others from Drew and the burbs will join our friends in Newark in an simple ministry of presence solidarity--to stand and march with those in the city that want to call attention to the need to engage gang culture more positively, help shape a more productive police response, and reduce youth violence, drugs and guns.

The march will begin after church at 1:30am at City Hall. We will walk down to Lincoln Park and attend a rally from 2pm till about 4pm. Attached is the flier circulated by Integrity House and the Newark Interfaith Coalition for Hope and Peace--of which Communities of Shalom is a part.

Hope to see you there!


The Star Ledger
Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Newark activists sensing a moment
They plan a march …

March for Hope and Peace Rally Budding in Newark

An Invitation to March for Peace and Hope in Newark was issued this week by Dave Kerr, Founder of Integrity House, member of our Newark Interfaith Coalition for Hope and Peace, and one of the organizers of this solidarity event with Newark residents who continue to experience waves of street violence in their city:

Michael and group,

Thanks to you and Deen Shareef for your able representation at our recent Bridge Breakfast. The following is information to discuss at or upcoming meeting on the 11th at 4:30pm. The Newark Interfaith Coalition needs to take a leadership role in this budding movement for peace, hope and realistic help to members of our community in need, many of them violent and involved in gangs. We would like to involve suburban churches in this march and rally and wondered if any of you have some ideas?

You might want to approach this in a different way but I have always felt that we need to "strike while the iron is hot." If we are going to pull off a march …

“The People have spoken”

My eyes welled up last night and this morning as the national milestone of putting an African American family in a White House built by slave labor. Anyone with a social justice bone in their body, whether they voted for Senator McCain or not, must be over-whelmed with a deeper joy today in seeing the flood of images of jubilation from around the world.

"The people have spoken!" said Senator John McCain. “All Americans can be proud of the history that was made yesterday.” said President George W. Bush. Now the real work begins of systemic change in “remaking the Nation, block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand, said President-elect Barak Obama. And I would add, “zone by zone of shalom.”

As the images of joy and celebration continue to stream in from around the world, and tears fall down our cheeks, let us also remember how fearful at least 25% of those who voted for McCain feel about an Obama presidency, according to the polls. Many are conv…

“Spread the Wealth Around”

Stewardship Sermon: “Spread the Wealth Around” (Luke 16:1-13)
By Michael J. Christensen

If one were to cast a vote on Tuesday based on just one social issue, what would that issue be? The candidate's position on abortion rights? Homosexuality? War? Immigration, Economics?

Interestingly, for Christians, Jesus did not take a pro or con position on abortion, homosexuality, war or immigration. Never addressed these important issues. But he had plenty to say about taxes and riches and the right use of money. Economic justice looms large in the Gospels.

What is the second most frequent topic addressed in the entire Bible? No, not sexuality. Not killing. But Money! Second only to the topic of the Kingdom of God. Hundreds of scripture verses about money!

So if we want to major on the issues the Bible majors on, and on what Jesus cared most about, it's 1) the Kingdom of God and 2) Use of Money.

Our political candidates aren't talking too much about God's Kindgom of love…

HopeHome Report for October

It's the end of the month and the HopeHome in Mzuzu, which cares for 86 orphaned and abandoned children, is down to $11.31 in their bank account. We need to send another $1000 next week to meet November's budgeted expense for food, blankets and school fees.

Here is Pastor Copeland's report for October:



The Hope Homes and Hope scholarship account received MK139 000.00 (US$985) in September from WorldHope Corps and the subsequent is our expenditure breakdown.

INCOME Received 139 000.00 OCT.



Blankets 95 000.00
Internet 2 905.00
Transport 6 200.00
Food 25 000.00
Text Books 1 900.00
Admin Costs 6 400.00
Balance c/d 1 595.00

TOTAL 139 000.00 (US$

NOTE: This leaves us with a balance of MK 1595.00 (US$11.31)

Our joy and appreciation for the succour that you accord us is unfathomable and we commend you to the Lord Jesu…

Newark Interfaith Coalition Promotes Peace in Newark

Newark, NJ: It happened again this week. Two people were killed and four wounded in a drive-by shooting on Friday afternoon, October 24, near public schools in Newark-- New Jersey’s largest city. According to police reports, at least 3 people in an SUV drove around the city firing randomly at pedestrians, including a 20-year-old male and 24-year-old female who died. A ninth grade girl and a 16-year old boy, along two others, were also shot, but survived. This was the latest incident in a series of violent crimes over the past few years in a city known for gang violence and systemic poverty.

Eighty-three people were murdered in 2007 and 52 so far this year, according to a New York Times article published on Saturday, October 24. What the news media did not report were on-the-ground reports of unwarranted police actions in a neighborhood conflict the aftermath of the shootings. According to David Kerr, President of Integrity House, “there was a group of street people and minister…

Two hundred dollars goes a long way

Pictured above is Pastor Copeland Nkhata and orphaned children with HIV/AIDS who needed food and medicine this month in Malawi.

Their need was met by Stacy Radmore (pictured below in a remote village without fresh water)

Stacy is one of several contributors to our orphan care project in Mzuzu, Malawi. She was tempted to spend her money for new LL Bean ski jacket that costs $199. Instead, she sent $200 to WorldHope Corps to help 12 children in dire need of food and medicine in time of AIDS and a global recession.

I just received this email update from our partner Copeland Nkhata, pastor of the United Methodist Church in Mzuzu, who with his congregation cares for over 60 orphaned, abandoned, and vulnerable children in the neighborhood.

--Forwarded Message Attachment--
Date: Tue, 21 Oct 2008 12:06:02 +0000
Subject: Re: from copeland

Dear Brother Mike,


I thus report that the US$200.00 from Stacy was used in the following way:


The Road to Mzuzu

Most women(but not men)in Malawi have to walk several miles to collect clean water from the nearest well, or make due with water puddles and streams nearby. They carry heavy containers on their heads back to their own village which lacks potable water from a fresh, reliable source. This is why 1 our of 5 children die before the age of 5 from preventable, waterborne diseases. Contaminated water typically is collected from stale ponds and muddy streams.

Chappy Valente, a professional painter and entrepreneur from North Carolina, accompanied me to Malawi last Spring as part of the mission team. As we watched women collecting rain water from puddles on the ground to take back in buckets on their long journey home, Chappy captured a moment in time in the 'warm heart of Africa' in this delightful painting entitled "The Road to Mzuzu".

I asked Chappy (pictured above) if I could post his painting on my blog with the hope that our "Friends of Malawi" would find it …

60 AIDS orphans sponsored

Good News today!

WorldHope Corps, Inc., committed itself to support 60 orphans and abandoned children affected by AIDS in Malawi on a monthly bases. Through a grant of $10,000 from the United Methodist Global AIDS Fund, and with the help of many friends of Malawi who will continue to contribute to the need, we can send $1,000/month to the HopeHome program of Mzuzu Circuit United Methodist Church in Mzuzu, Malawi, which is caring for 60+ children.

What follows is the email I received today from Rev. Copeland Nkhata, the church's pastor and HopeHome program director:

Dearest Brother,

I happily got your email and express my deep-seated gratitude for both the financial aid and the advice to limit the number of orphaned and vulnerable children we care for to 60 for adequate funding.

I went to check the account and the funds have come in MK206000.00 ($1500). The [HopeHome] program will resume in October as you had indicated.

The past 2 weeks I was down with flu and sneezing making my work …

Too many kids in Hope Home

Dear Copeland,

Please forgive my silence. I've been working behind the scenes to do all we can to help. I strongly urge you to limit your good work to your financial capacity to care for the children and youth. I am concerned that you have given hope to too many kids without adequate provisions to fulfill their need. I would suggest limiting your program budget to $2,000 a month and 60 kids. That is about $30/per month per child, which is all I think we can raise together this year for orphan care.

That being said, WorldHope Corps, INc. received $10,000 from the United
Methodist Global AIDS Fund. So we can match and co-sponsor what CitiHope is
doing for the rest of this year. And we will try to raise $1000/month beginning in January from Friends of Malawi.

So, I will wire you $1500 next week to be used as follows:

$1000 for October HopeHome expenses
300 from Bob Robinson to help Esnat Banda's surviving children
200 from Stacy Radmore for your church to use as you see fi…

Hope Home Report for July


INCOME MK139,000


Tuition and Exam fees MK133000.00
Food 11000.00
Transport 1500.00

Internet 4000.00
Grand Total Expenditure MK149500.00

NOTE: MK10,500.00 is local contribution to make up for the over expenditure

It is our joy to extend our gratitude to the Citihope office – Malawi, Citihope office USA and also Rev. Michael Christensen who jointly stand behind the success of the Hope Homes and Hope Scholarship program.


It is also praise worthy as we report that:

1. Mababazo chilembwe has passed and been awarded a Certificate in Financial Accounting and now admitted into the 1st stage of Diploma in Accounting.

2. Ellen Mhone has passed and is awarded a Certificate in Business Management ABE – UK with a Distinction in Accounting. She also has done a 2nd Diploma in Marketing. These paper have enabled her to pick up a good job with a big company at a good salary from 1st July 2…
My Dear Brother Michael,

I am blessed to report our success story:

(`1) We have put up a better structure for the sanctuary and job was finished on 20th july. But I went away on the same day in the rural areas of dedza district--away from internet on national assignments. You will soon get the pictures.
We have too many thanks to the friends of mzuzu circuit.

(2) Ellen one of the students you sponsored for accounting course has picked up a good job with a good company and will send you the details and a picture also. Your services has excellent fruits and you can expect alot more

Love from

From: Michael Christensen
Subject: good news
To: "Copeland Nkhata"
Date: Thursday, 25 June, 2008, 4:32 AM

Hello my friend. I have two pieces of good news of great joy to tell you:

1. I submitted the proposal to UM Global AIDS Fund to help fund our HopeChurch
program. Let's pray that it comes through in a timely manner.

2. We raised $2,000 for your ministry, which I wired to you on Monday. Please
confirm receipt. It is designated as follows:

$1500 to replace the roof on the church
$300 to provide housing for the Banda family that Bob Robinson wrote you about.
$200 for emergency fund to be used at your desecration in behalf of your
orphaned and vulnerable children in your care.


Mother Shalom

South Central, Los Angeles, was the neighborhood in the city where Communities of Shalom began in 1992. I met Marx Gutierrez from El Salvador who was there attending High School at the time. He remembers what happened at the corner of Florence and Normandy Streets in South Central, LA, when Reginald Denny was pulled out of his truck and beaten while the crowd looked on and the police did nothing; and how the Rodney King beating resulted in a not-guilty verdict for the police and resulted in a major, 3-day uprising in the neighborhood, until the National Guard came in and finally imposed law and order. He can still remember the fires, the bright orange night sky, the mass looting, 45 unsolved killings, the social chaos...And how the United Methodist Churches responded by creating a zone of shalom in 7 neighborhoods of Los Angeles.

Today, Marx is a community organizer, and married to Jennifer Gutierrez, Conference Shalom Coordinator in the Calif-Pacific Annual Conference, and Rev. Vilma …

Blankets needed for Orphan Care

What follows is a monthly report from Copeland Nkhata, pastor of the Mzuzu UMC congregation and program director of our Orphan Care program in Malawi.

Be sure to read his appeal for blankets for the kids, and his proposal to take the cost out of the food budget in July. If we raise additional funds--approx $600--we can supply blankets for 80+ vulnerable children and the center would not have to use food money.

Unlike here in the USA, its cold at night in July in Malawi. Blankets are needed in the Center. Shipping costs are too high to find blankets here to ship over. We need to wire funds for local purchase of what is needed. Please let me know if you would like to help by emailing me at

Dear Rev Michael,

Thanks for all the help. The Hope Homes and Hope Scholarship Program is growing as you can testify of what you saw on 9th March. We have gratitude for you are making a difference in our community especially among the Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC).

We wi…

Thank you from Copeland

Rev. Copeland Nkhata, Pastor of the Methodist Church in Mzuzu, with his wife, Jane, who with their congregation took in 57 orphans to care for since 2006

I received the following email from Rev. Nkhata this morning, acknowledging receipt of our funds to replace the roof and conveying his deep gratitude. I asked him to borrow a camera and send a photo when he can. Read and rejoice:

Dear Michael,

Very many thanks and truly words cannot suffice to say thank you for such great intervention with funds to let us replace the roof of the church. Be assured that the job is soon done. I will assign Leaster to go down to Blantyre to purchase the tent soon.

Convey to all friends of Malawi Mzuzu circuit that we are glad for they have been used of the Lord to make a difference among the people of Mzuzu. God flourish your hearts for his kingdom.

Love from


For more photos of the Orphan Church in Mzuzu, as well as our March Mission Trip, click on this link to the Photo Album:


We raised enough to raise the roof !

We raised enough to raise the roof of the orphan church in Malawi!

On May 12, Rev. Copeland NKhata prayed about the sudden loss of the roof to his church. He shared the need with others: "We are still holding together, though a few of our members are excessively shocked. Our services are badly affected, but we have hope that God will always protect his work."

Apparently, God told him to find a friend with a computer and email his friends outside of Africa. The email that reached Sarah Harrington, who passed it on to me, read as follows:

"Sad news: armed robbers have stolen the tent that we had used to roof our small church structure. The roof is now bare, and drizzle or sunshine affects our services. The matter is with the police. Please pray that God would bail us out of this mess."

The 'tent' he was referring to is the relatively expensive, waterproof, roof covering on wood and thatched built church of 150 Methodists (including 57 AIDS orphans) who worship …