“The task of prophetic ministry is to nurture, nourish, and evoke a consciousness and perception alternative to the consciousness and perception of the dominant culture around us.” – Walter Brueggemann During the summer months, my Church studied the minor prophets in order to be reoriented to what it means to restore our community (and world) with […]
Sitting with Loneliness
Recently, I bequeathed one of the very few prize heirlooms from our family – the McGee couch. For 20 years this extra long and extra wide plaid couch adorned either our game room, living room, or study. When my parents moved to a smaller house in the country, it ended up nearly consuming half my […]
Geti’s Story — Fleeing her Taliban Husband
Shrieks filled the air, followed by the occasional whimper and whine, as kids bounded unaware of each other around the Frankfurt park covered by a panoply of fully-leaved trees. Scrapped knees and bruised egos caused many kids to scamper back to their parents who were underneath the white tents outside the ice-cream shop. They would […]
Leon Bridges and Asad — A Middle Eastern’s Story of Forgiveness
(Italicized below are the lyrics to Leon Bridges’s song, “Lisa Sawyer.” As I went to a coffee shop in Europe to write this, the Ft. Worth native was gently singing about Lisa’s life and eventual encounter with Jesus. I couldn’t help but connect the lyrics, ever so loosley, to Asad’s story.) She was born in […]
Can’t We All Just Get Along?
For the past 10 years, I have been caught in between many worlds of the Christian faith. I grew up southern baptist; I worked at progressive non-denominational church; I went to a Catholic college; I have led trips for churches from the mainline denominations; I have friends in the Orthodox church; I am now an […]
My Displacement in Athens
After engaging in intensive and intentional ministry to the Syrian refugees in Jordan, I knew my opportunities to serve in Athens would look different. I arrived with some baseline expectations, though. I would work with Helping Hands, a 20+ year old refugee ministry, my first day, and an American church, serving all summer throughout Greece, […]
In Isa’s Name — Mohammed’s Story
We were caught in No Man’s Land. Men, pregnant women, and children were all on their hands and knees, crawling across the Jordan and Syrian wilderness as rebel bullets whizzed over our heads. We just had to reach the Jordanian military vehicles. If only we could get there, we would be safe. There is something […]
How Arab Culture Reminded Me to be More Like Jesus
In between my stays in Jordan and Athens, I have decided to make a three day stop in Rome to rest and write (and work with African refugees one day). When I was sitting in my favorite Sicilian restaurant, Melo, near the Roman Forum, I was drinking some fine Italian wine and reading Wendell Berry’s […]
Ahmed’s Story — How Gratitude Alters Reality
The crisis in Syria began in March of 2011 after a series of protests in the capital city of Damascus turned violent. During the years leading up to the war, the government unjustly tossed civil rights activists, political dissidents, and ethnic minorities in jail, and the people were ready for the democratic changes the Assad […]
Oh yes, God is good.
Today’s the day I head east for my trip to serve the displaced overseas and collect the stories of those I meet along the way. During the past few summers, I have spent much of my time leading mission trips and pilgrimages for church groups from all sorts of denominations and backgrounds.
Before the first trip I would lead, I would rummage around my room trying to find my small, black, Patagonia man-purse. I carried this bag with me at all times on my trips. My life resided in that bag — in more ways than one — and it stayed forever perched on my hip for the summer months.
Necessary paperwork and a few books would be jammed inside, but nestled in the flap pocket was (and is) a Russian pilgrimage icon. It was given to me and blessed by an Anglican priest in Moscow one summer when I took my own pilgrimage of sorts to Mother Russia.
In the midst of my busy travels and a weary soul, my distraught hand would brush up or lay absently upon the icon which was located perfectly on the outside of my bag, and my bag was located perfectly on my right hip. A quick jolt of God’s mercy would shoot from the hidden icon, through my tired hands, and to the fatigued places of my soul. It would strengthen me and remind me — You can do this. I am with you. Don’t forget. I am indeed good.
As I am about to board a plane to places I have never been, to be with people (for the majority of my trip) I don’t know, and called to do a work I am utterly incapable of doing, I place my hand of the icon and remember:
Oh yes, You are good.
Therefore, the story below is the story of how the icon became a symbol and a means of God’s goodness in my life. A reminder I will need each day of this journey.