Thursday, November 02, 2006

CCDA Philly Slideshows

The following slideshows were produced for CCDA’s Friday and Saturday morning general sessions.

Part 1
Photos from the first two days of CCDA, including Mayor John Street, John Perkins, Tony Campolo, Dr. Wayne Gordon, Dr. Alyn Waller, Noel Castellanos, Rev. Herbert Lusk, II, workshops, candids, and more; music by Fred Hammond, Casting Crowns, and Bethany.

Photos by Jeremy Del Rio.

Part 2
Pictures include John Perkins, Noel Castellanos, Dr. Wayne Gordon, Ms. Marian Wright Edelman, Dr. Louis Carlo, Spencer Perkins Fellows, general session presenters, workshops, and candids, with music by Jason Upton, U2, and Isaac Houghton.

Photos by Jeremy Del Rio

Feel free to post the slideshows on your website/blogs, but kindly include appropriate photo credit to and a link back to CCDA.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


I have seen amazing changes in the city of Chicago the last 15 years. We are a city that is being gentrified by the day, with the wealthy and upper class returning to the center of the city to take advantage of its amazing assets: a world class skyline, an amazing lake front, out of this world restaurants, great parks and museums, and the World Champion Chicago White Sox!

Especially the barrios of Humboldt Park, La Villita, and Pilsen have gone through unthinkable transformation. 10 years ago, you could buy a city lot in Pilsen for $10,000. Today, that same lot will cost you between $200,000 and $500,000.

Latino churches have overnight found themselves surrounded by new middle-class 'neighbors' right in the barrio, while many of their members have been forced to move away from the communities where they have grown up all of their lives--because the can no longer afford to live there.

The pastors of these churches are dealing with 'White Real Estate Might' instead of 'White Flight' that was experienced 20-30 years ago, which gave their flocks an opportunity to move into these traditional inner city neighborhoods.

Now, in the face of all of these changes, what do we do if we care for the barrio? What do we do if God has called us to love our Latino neighbors and neighborhoods?

BARRIO SHALOM. This is what God has been speaking to my heart as I have been reflecting, studying, and praying about my role in La Villita. Seek the 'Shalom' of my barrio. Seek the wholeness, and vitality, and spiritual revival of my barrio. Seek to invite, encourage, and engage others to enter into a journey of working together for the Shalom of La Villita.

What this will look like is yet unclear, but if it is to be deeply Biblical, it must be rooted in community. It must be rooted in the fullest understanding of what Shalom is:
  • Peace- Our neighborhood is so violent with gangs and domestic violence
  • Love- We all desperately need a safe place to let God expand our heart for the Prince of Peace. We all need grace and forgiveness
  • Justice- A way to deal with the injustices we see in our barrio and in all barrios around our globe, and beyond
  • Fiesta- Real fiesta will spring forth when a group of broken people who are seeking God find their joy in celebrating the good things that God is doing in our midst, in our barrio, in our world

Our barrio is amazing, in that we have so many positive elements to our community. Thriving businesses; lots of homeowners; many churches; some economic diversity; good leadership on many fronts. But we are a community of need of SHALOM.

Families are afraid to let our children and teens out because of gang violence. Men abuse their wives and girlfriends and children far too often. Fear and violence are clear manifestations of evil in our barrio.

I am convinced that Kingdom people in our barrio can unleash God's love and justice with such a powerful force, that SHALOM can flow like a gushing stream--in the place of violence. This is something worth praying for, working for, and worth living for.

Along the way, let's we give glory to God for what He is doing to bring His Shalom to our needy world.


Psalm 9:18
"The needy will not be forgotten forever; the hopes of the poor will not always be crushed."

Today, there is word from Colorado that the state legislature has passed some very tough laws that prohibit undocumented residents from receiving basic services. (A taste of things to come as our nation continues the debate over our immigration policy)

As a follower of the ultimate 'friend of the lowly, the forgotten, and the poor' I feel compelled to care. I feel moved to pray and do what I can to act in love-filled way towards these individuals who have become such lighting rods of controversy.

I feel deeply saddened and burdened that we are so unable to understand the hopes that these men and women have for a better life, and for many, for economic survival.

Forgetting politics for a moment. I am trusting God that the words of Psalm 9 are indeed going to be fulfilled at some point. That if the Lord has anything to do with it, 'the hopes of the poor will not be crushed forever.'

Proverbs 19:4
"Wealth makes many friends; poverty drives them away."

Do I only welcome others when they make my life better and more prosperous, (or at least have no negative impact on my life), or do I see the value of others for who they are; men and women created in the image of God. In fact, am I open to the possibility that the very presence of Christ might be uniquely found in the poor and forgotten that I easily walk past?

Lord, help me to see the vulnerable as you do, and help me do whatever I can so that your Kingdom will come here on earth as it is in heaven--where the hopes of the poor will not be crushed.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

NY Without Immigrants

"Although they broke the law by illegally crossing our borders ... our city's economy would be a shell of itself had they not, and it would collapse if they were deported, the same holds true for the nation."

- New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaking to a Senate committee. Source: CNN

Friday, June 30, 2006

Burro Genius

If you want to read an amazing account of a young boy's struggle to overcome discrimination, low expectations, and Dyslexia to become a world-class writer, check out this book written by Victor Villaseñor .

Patricia's Story

Patricia's Strory
Behind every 'undocumented immigrant' or 'illegal alien' is a real human story. This is one of 'Patricia,' as told to Juan Hernandez and Noel Castellanos

On May 1, 2006, as many as 800,000 immigrants flooded into the streets of Dallas and Chicago to demonstrate that their presence in the United States is neither insignificant nor to be taken lightly. Imagine the courage it took for these individuals to risk coming out of the shadows of our nation’s underground and to openly declare their desire to be woven into the tapestry of the country with other immigrant citizens...

Pick up a copy of this month's Sojourners magazine to read the rest of the story.

From Poverty to Opportunity

This past Monday through Wednesday, I was in Washington, DC with over 600 'progressive' Christians. We were brought together by Jim Wallis and the Call to Renewal / Sojourners movement that is seeking to forge new solutions to end poverty that are neither Republican or Democrate, but committed to justice.

Mary Nelson, Jim Wallis, Tony Campolo a few others and myself, were carrying the banner on a few mile march from the National Church to the lawn at the Capital. It was a great time to take our faith to the streets in a role of advocacy aimed at letting our lawmakers know that Christians care about more that just a few issues, and that we care alot about what God cares about-the poor and the marignalized.

There were many highlights. Seeing lot's of young leaders eager to get engaged. Meeting with our Senators and going to see Congressman Gutierrez of Illinois. Getting a chance to hear Barak Obama...he is a very compelling leader in DC.

Finally, we had the chance to introduce the Covenant for a New America, a documented put together by Sojourners that outlines a list of commitments that Christians who care about poverty and justice are asking our lawmakers to support.

I encourage you to find out more about the Covenant at the link provided above.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

New Mestizo Cohort Starts BGU Program

Twenty-five folks from around the globe began the Bakke Graduate University D Min program with me in Seattle, WA. I will bring you all with me on this journey as I travel around the world with this group.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

If Only Finding a Church Was this Easy

Very early Sunday morning, I set out to find a breakfast spot before starting my day. I found my experience very much like looking for the perfect church.

  • First of all, it has to be perfect. That is, it has to match the image that I have in my mind of what a 'perfect breakfast' will look and taste like.
  • It has to serve all the traditional breakfast stuff: eggs, potatoes, and chorizo.
  • It has to serve great coffee, ala Starbuck's.
  • The Waite staff has to be cool and attentive (after all, I need to be well taken care of).
  • Also, the venue has to be artistic, cool, open, non-traditional, and of course, right in the heart of the city.
  • If it were a unique, one of a kind place, that would be ideal, but I'll settle if I have to.
  • It has to have great music. New talent; funky; stuff I can enjoy while eating that gets me grooving just a little bit is perfect.
  • Being walking distance from home is a must!
  • Finally, it has to be hopping with a diverse crowd.

After an hour of walking around, past, in and out of, numerous places, I was getting so hungry my standards began to plummet downward. I even began to remember restaurants I had seen in other parts of town that served breakfast, and I was tempted to get on a bus and commute to find my perfect place. But, eating breakfast was much too important for me to give up so quickly. I had to press on.

  • Maybe I should go back to the great doughnut place right be my apartment. No. Too much sugar and not enough substance.
  • The dining room at the Ramada Inn would probably serve the eggs and bacon I was looking for, but the place is too old and unhip for me to really enjoy my breakfast.
  • Then there was the very nice hotel joint not far away, but it was a bit to up scale for me. I did not want to spend $20 for eggs and toast!
  • Then there were the 10 Starbuck's I passed by. (No joke, this is Seattle) Even though they now serve a pretty good breakfast sandwich, I couldn't bring myself to settling for something so familiar and so canned.
  • Not to mention the numerous storefront places that served other interesting food, but no breakfast.

I was now so hungry, I was really ready to settle for anything, when it happened. I came across a sports bar that was serving breakfast. I walked down into the huge space filled with TV lights and the sounds of the World Cup. It was comfortable and contemporary. The African American greeter (I mean host) was great, and made me feel at home.

I was drawn to the feel, to the sounds (very loud) and to the visuals. And the finals of the French Open were on (showing on 20 huge HDTV plasma screens) with the Mexico versus Iran game coming up next. What could be better?

I ate my breakfast. Nadal won, and Mexico was not losing. To top it off, after the offering (I mean, after paying my bill) they moved me into the cigar bar to watch the game on a couch in absolute comfort.

Too bad I'm only in Seattle for one weekend, because this would be a great regular breakfast place, especially during the World Cup!

If only finding a church home were this easy!

Monday, June 05, 2006

Report Number One from Seattle

I just arrived in Seattle for my 2 week stint at the Bakke program. My friends Lisa and Hayden picked me up at the airport, brought me a mattress, and helped me find my apartment.

It is an amazing place 1 block from the Space Needle (which I have a full view of from my living room window). The young man who I am renting a room from is named Jaspreet: He works at Microsoft and seems to be a real nice person. (First impessions at midnight)

I start at 8am, and expect to get a wake-up call from my wife Marianne at 6am.