Friday, April 29, 2005

The Bravo Family. Angelina is the second from the right in the black sweater. Posted by Hello

Pray for Angelina Bravo

Angelina Bravo is a beautiful, incredible young woman form La Villita that I have known for many years. Her entire family attends La Villita Community Church. She is finishing her freshman year at Taylor University (at a location 50 miles from Fort Wayne, so I will not get to see her on my trip).

I just spoke to her tonight, and I was saddened to hear that she will most likely not be able to return to Taylor next year because of a lack of funds. She really wants to be a medical doctor, but feels discouraged that this passion/dream may not come to pass.

I am so proud of her, because I know how difficult it has been for her to make it this far. Against many odds, she is amazingly close to fulfilling her dream. My own son, Noel Luis is graduating from HS this year, and Marianne and I have been very involved in helping him check out schools, fill out forms, etc. while Angelina has done so much with limited resources.

Please pray that God will provide a way for Angelina (and for all the other 'Angelinas' who find themselves in the same predicament in Universities throughout our nation) to continue her studies. One day in the not too distant future, I pray I will be able to make an appointment to see Dr. Bravo for one of my many ailments.

Time at Taylor U. with Dr. John Perkins

Dr. Perkins, or JP could be just about anywhere in the world right now, but he is here in Fort Wayne, IN teaching a class on Christian Community Development to a group of 12 students. I am here as a helper to John (I have to fight to get a few thoughts in now and then), and it's a real blast. One thought can lead to an amazing social-theological analysis that can go on for thirty minutes, and it is all amazing and insightful. I'm so glad to have this opportunity to do this with JP!

JP is 75 years young, and he is full of passion for a new project he and his daughter Elizabeth are developing in Jackson, MS. They're buying up houses and turning them into homes filled with neighbors from the community with a commitment to become a thriving neighborhood- It is called the Zachariah Project.

JP shared that leadership is about applying solutions to the most pressing issues/problems of our time, while engaging the people with the problem in the process of bringing about change. And that along with engaging the people from the community, it is about involving his friends from around the country in the process as well.

I'm so impressed with JP's ability to make and cultivate friendships. He has learned through years of personal experience that everything is about relationships! Ministry impact, resources, solutions, community, faith, are all experienced or obtained through authentic relationships.

Jessie Miranda wrote a leadership book in Spanish a few years back (one of the few) called Liderazgo y Amistad, Leadership and Friendship. In the book, he uses a term, 'Amigo Leadership' that is embodied and valued by Latino leaders. Well, JP practices amigo leadership like a true mestizo.

In fact, amigo leadership is a vital skill-passion for mestizo-emerging leaders to learn for ministry in this new millennium. We need to connect with people, deeply, if others are going to embrace us, trust us, or allow us to have influence in their lives. Being an amigo/friend, by its very nature is all about influence rather than power: I do not 'oversee' a friend, like I do a person on my staff. I put myself in close proximity to a friend to be able to influence-support, as well as to be influenced and supported. True friendship is a two-way street rooted in relationship.

One of my closest friends-brothers is Larry Acosta in Santa Ana. He too has amigo leadership down to an art form. Like JP and other effective leaders, they make you feel like you are the most important person in the entire world when you are with them. It seems like Jesus had that kind of ability as well. He once told his disciples, 'I no longer call you servants, but I call you my friends...'

Being able to call John Perkins my friend is a great honor. Maybe tomorrow in class, I'll be able to sneak in a few thoughts and comments of my own, while he continues to blow us away with his thoughtfulness and wisdom.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Dr.'s John and Vera Mae Perkins with Marianne and I in Atlanta. John and I will be teaching a class this weekend at Taylor University. Posted by Hello

Noel and Bob Lupton having some fun at the CCDA conference in Atlanta! Posted by Hello

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Investing in Mestizo Leaders

Tonight was an amazing night! I was in Humbolt Park again with Isaiah Mercado and the leaders from la Casa del Carpintero, speaking on the topic of 'priorities'. Young, eager leaders wanting to learn and grow. Everything we did was bilingual-confusing. Spanglish, Puerto-Rican style flying everywhere, punctuated by 'Gloria' being shouted at the appropriate times. It was a blast, and I'm very proud of Isaiah & Lucrecia for their courage to start this church in this gentrifying hood.

When I got home, one of my best friends was waiting for me. Robert Guerrero, from the Dominican Republic, is an amazing young leader that I have been blessed to work with for years. We met while I was planting La Villita Community Church, and he was a student at Moody Bible Institute. He joined me as co-pastor for two years before various turns in life sent him back to the DR.

Under Robert's leadership, a church has been established in the heart of Santo Domingo, in the old historic district (500 years old) that would blow your mind. A church totally committed to wholistic ministry, ala CCDA, with a gym, economic development projects, after-school programs, etc. And, a church that is Latino-Seeker focused, crazy about evangelism and leadership development. To pull off this mix in any context would be amazing, but to do it there is nothing short of miraculous!

May 10-13, I will be in the DR with Robert and 300 church leaders from that country that are either already committed to wholistic 'mision integral' type ministry, or learning about it. I feel so blessed to be able to go and participate. Pray for me as I will share a Bible Study, devotional two mornings and do a workshop on the 8 components of Christian Community Development-with a mestizo twist!

I was so glad to have my kids exposed to Robert again, and to get a chance to hang out and rekindle our friendship. Both Isaiah and Robert are dynamic mestizo leaders making an impact for God's Kingdom, and I am glad to count them as my friends.

Casa de Luz

I am in presently serving on the leadership team of a new Spanish speaking congregation that Willow Creek is trying to start in the NW suburbs call Casa de Luz. Today, 1/2 of the 1.3 million Latinos that live in our metroplex live in the city (many in La Villita) and the other half live in the suburbs.

This would have been unthinkable 15 years ago, but dramatizes the amazing explosion of the Latino community into every corner of our nation. We hosted a dinner of arrachera and all the works last night at our home, with the new pastor of this effort, Hector Hermosillo (former pastor in Mexico City, and leader of Torre Fuerte, a Christian music/worship band), Hector's wife Gaby, and a few others that serve on the team.

As I drove the entire group around La Villita, Hector was blown away by seeing this thriving Mexican barrio in the midwest. He also confessed how much he needs to learn about Mexicans, and all Latinos living in the USA.

As the evening unfolded, I was amazed again by the incredible diversity of the Latino community. Around our table, we had Mexican, Chicano, Argentinean, Dominican, Anglo-Latino (a white brother that throws down with his Spanish & loves the Latino culture). Marianne was surprised that not many of our guests used salsa (hot) on their food, until I told her where everyone was from!

Our mestizo-mosaic blend of cultures is a great blessing as we seek to understand the broader mestizaje that is going on in our nation and world. Bienvenidos Hector y Gaby a los estados unidos.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Spanglish Word of the Day

Chicano (TCHI-ka-no) A person of Mexican background/heritage living in the United States. The etymology is believed to be from mexicano, dating back to 1947. 'Yo soy Chicano.' I am a Chicano.

Having dinner with with Larry Acosta. I'll be at Azusa in May for the UYWI offering some CCDA Institute classes and am doing a forum on the effect immigration issues have our Latino families and youth. Posted by Hello