Sunday, September 25, 2016

Migrants in Central America

Global Ministries Missionary James Perdue illuminates the call of the church and local agencies to aid migrants in Central America that includes a focus on human rights.
Henri Aguilar with his one-year old daughter Genesis in the yard of their home. This photo was captured May 2, 2007. On May 7, 2007, he was assassinated by three masked men. Aguilar was a former member of the Mara Salvatrucha, but under the guidance of a Catholic program had left the gang and was married, working full-time, and heavily involved in parish life. Photo: Paul Jeffrey

by James D. Perdue

The churches in Mexico are suddenly realizing a new call. Mexico has not done a lot of advocacy work around migrant issues, but we have discovered a lawyer in Monterrey who says: “I don’t want to be a pastor. I want to help these people get legal status.”
We focus heavily on guaranteeing human rights. People have a right to stay where they are rather than being forced to migrate. They have the right to safe passage when they choose to migrate, the right to fair treatment in the countries to which they flee, and the right to safe passage and repatriation if they should be returned to their home countries. Along the way, some overriding humanitarian needs surface, and the local agencies we work with provide the necessary aid.
In El Salvador, community members are often threatened by violent gangs. Despite death threats, many families won’t yield. They simply can’t allow their children to be forced into gang membership. Their only other option is to flee. Having only 48 hours before the gangs come back to carry out their threat, these family members get up in the middle of the night and leave for the United States.

The local agencies that partner with us provide threatened families with protected houses for up to three months. They take steps to ensure that the families can’t be found. Meanwhile, teams of lawyers help the migrants secure the documentation they need to settle in Nicaragua, Costa Rica, or Panama—the trip to the United States being far too dangerous. Our partner agencies try to help people understand the risks and to weigh their more realistic options. Still, some emigrants decide to take unnecessary risks in the hope of reaching the USA. Instead they often get returned to their home countries. The emerging network of agencies that we helped to develop in Mexico work along the migration corridors to make sure that the migrants’ human needs and rights are protected.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Come Traveler: Bless Me (2016-0918)

ROOTS: The Hymns of Charles Wesley
09/18/2016 Christ Mountain Top
Call to worship, Psalm 121
Children, Luke 18.35-43
Message, Genesis 32 (reading 32.21-32)

This is quite a story, but to get the full picture we have to know a little more about Jacob than what we have here. It is a fascinating account, worth a whole series of messages, but I will only summarize it here, since we are concerned with a separate series: The Hymns of Charles Wesley, who was one of the founding figures of the Methodist movement, the writer of over 9000 hymns, and the youngest of 18 children!

Jacob and his brother Esau are twins, and Jacob is the youngest.  In the womb, he and his brother Esau were wrestling each other.  God declared, in conflict with typical practice in the culture, that the older would serve the younger.  In the culture, the oldest son received two special considerations.  First: The birthright, the right to a double share of the inheritance.  Second: The blessing, a special blessing conferred by the father on the oldest that granted him status as head of the family and conferred other blessings as well.
      The boys grew up, Jacob as mama’s favorite and Esau as daddy’s boy, Jacob as the farmer and Esau as the hunter.  One day, Jacob took advantage of Esau’s hunger and traded a bowl of soup for the birthright.  Esau went away angry, angry at his brother and probably angry at himself but, like many folks, he was more comfortable blaming someone else for something he could easily have prevented.
      Then, when the father, Isaac, now blind and infirm, became ill, Jacob, with mama’s help, presented himself in Esau’s place and stole the blessing from Esau.  Esau declared that he would kill Jacob as soon as their father died, so Jacob left the country and lived with his mother’s family in another land.

There, he fell in love and married his cousins, the two daughters of Laban, who showed himself to be a match for Jacob in many ways.  Things escalated over time – Jacob spent 14 years working for his uncle to pay off the bride price and more time after that to make his fortune – and Jacob fled with his family and livestock back to Palestine.  Uncle Laban finally caught up with them, with his sons and armed men, but God appeared to Laban and prevented him from harming Jacob.

Jacob burned his bridges and there is no going back.  But ahead of him is his brother Esau with a welcoming party of 400 armed men.  No wonder he sends gifts ahead, divides up his family and livestock, and is left alone to face . . . not Esau, not his demons, but a man who comes to wrestle with him.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Hurricane season

Alex, Bonnie, Colin, Danielle, Earl, Hermine, and Newton all sound like the start of a guest list for dinner. But this ‘guest’ list is really a series of tropical storms and hurricanes, some of which arrived long before the ringing of the dinner bell—the official start of thehurricane season (June 1-Nov. 30).

This year, weather forecasters predict that the 2016 Atlantic Hurricane season will be an above average season, and the most active since 2012.  

The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) knows that individuals, churches, and communities must always be in a state of preparedness because disasters can strike at any time. Being prepared means that you have a sense of control and hope during an unexpected event, and you are in a better position to assist your neighbors.  

Be in-the-know about hurricane or disaster preparedness.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Habitat pics (2 of 2)

Thanks to Steve for leading our team. Exciting to begin work in a new location.