Thursday, September 29, 2005

Cultivating the Soul

"The forming of the soul that it might be a dwelling place for God is the primary work of the Christian leader. This is not an add-on, or third level priority. Without this core activity, one almost guarantees that he/she will not last in leadership for a lifetime or that what work is accomplished will become less and less reflective of God's honor and God's purposes."
--Gordon Macdonald

Speaking at Indiana Wesleyan University and Taylor University

Yesterday and today, I am speaking to students at these two universities. Two campuses in the midst of corn fields (a long way from the barrio!) Last night I gave a talk on the Kingdom of Justice and Reconciliation. Tonight, I will talk about, Embracing Our Mestizo Future!

From Mother Teresa

The fruit of silence is prayer
The fruit of prayer is faith
The fruit of of faith is love
The fruit of love is service
The fruit of service is peace.

Mestizo Leaders Must Learn to be REAL with One Another

Everyday some of our best and brightest leaders fall and fail in such a way that devastate our churches and communities. The more I am around young and old leader alike, I realize how desperately we need each other to help keep us in the game of authentic discipleship and transformational leadership. I would say we need to be in groups where we can be REAL:

Remove Masks
Enlist the help of others
Attend to our own growth
Let others hold us accountable

If we are going to lead the church into our Mestizo future, we must get REAL with one another before another one of our own bites the dust!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

After Katrina, Where Have All the Hondurans Gone?

According to Honduran consulates, anywhere from 120,000 to 150,000 Hondurans were living in the New Orleans metropolitan area before Katrina struck. Estimates vary because so many of the thousands of Hondurans who were living in New Orleans were largely undocumented, working in the backs of restaurants, in people's homes or in Mississippi's unincorporated agricultural areas. And their faces have been largely absent from post-hurricane images of evacuees gathered at the Superdome or in shelters.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Rebuilding 'Nueva Orleans'

Check out this article forwarded to me bu my friend Danny Cortes, from Esperanza USA:

By Gregory Rodriguez, Gregory Rodriguez is a contributing editor to TheTimes and Irvine Senior fellow at the New America Foundation.

NO MATTER WHAT ALL the politicians and activists want, African Americans and impoverished white Cajuns will not be first in line to rebuild theKatrina-ravaged Gulf Coast and New Orleans. Latino immigrants, many ofthem undocumented, will. And when they're done, they're going to stay,making New Orleans look like Los Angeles.

It's the federal governmentthat will have made the transformation possible, further exposing thehollowness of the immigration debate. President Bush has promised that Washington will pick up the greaterpart of the cost for "one of the largest reconstruction efforts theworld has ever seen." To that end, he suspended provisions of theDavis-Bacon Act that would have required government contractors to payprevailing wages in Louisiana and devastated parts of Mississippi,Alabama and Florida. And the Department of Homeland Security hastemporarily suspended sanctioning employers who hire workers who cannotdocument their citizenship. The idea is to benefit Americans who mayhave lost everything in the hurricane, but the main effect will be tolet contractors hire illegal immigrants. Mexican and Central American laborers are already arriving insoutheastern Louisiana. One construction firm based in Metairie, La., sent a foreman to Houston to round up 150 workers willing to do cleanupwork for $15 an hour, more than twice their wages in Texas. The men -most of whom are undocumented, according to news accounts - live outsideNew Orleans in mobile homes without running water and electricity. The foreman expects them to stay "until there's no more work" but "there's going to be a lot of construction jobs for a really long time." Because they are young and lack roots in the United States, many recentmigrants are ideal for the explosion of construction jobs to come. Those living in the U.S. will relocate to the Gulf Coast, while others willcome from south of the border. Most will not intend to stay where their new jobs are, but the longer the jobs last, the more likely they will settle permanently.

One recent poll of New Orleans evacuees living inHouston emergency shelters found that fewer than half intend to return home. In part, their places will be taken by the migrant workers. Former President Clinton recently hinted as much on NBC's "Meet the Press" when he said New Orleans will be resettled with a different population. It is not the first time that hurricanes and other natural disastershave triggered population movements. In 1998, Hurricane Mitch slammed into Central America, sending waves of migrants northward. The 2001 earthquakes in El Salvador produced similar shifts. The effects ofHurricane Andrew may better foretell New Orleans' future. The 1992 storm displaced 250,000 residents in southeastern Florida. The construction boom that followed attracted large numbers of Latin American immigrants,who rebuilt towns such as Homestead, whose Latino population hasincreased by 50% since then.

At the same time, U.S. construction firms have become increasingly reliant on Latino immigrant labor. In 1990, only 3.3% of construction workers were Mexican immigrants. Ten years later, the number was 8.5%.In 2004, 17% of Latino immigrants worked in the business, a higher percentage than in any other industry. Nor is this an exclusively Southwest phenomenon. Even before Katrina, more and more Latin American immigrant workers were locating in the South, with North Carolina and Arkansas incurring the greatest percentage gains between 1990 and 2000. This helps explain why 40% of the workers who rebuilt the Pentagon after the 9/11 attack were Latino.

Reliance on immigrant labor to complete huge projects is part of U.S.history. In the early 19th century, mostly Irish immigrant laborers, who worked for as little as 37 1/2 cents an hour, built the Erie Canal, one of the greatest engineering feats of its day. Later that century,Italian immigrants, sometimes making just $1.50 a day, were the backbone of the workforce that constructed the New York subway system. In 1890, 90% of New York City's public works employees, and 99% of Chicago's street workers, were Italian. After Congress authorized construction of the transcontinental railroad in 1862, one of the most ambitious projects in U.S. history, Charles Crocker, head of construction for Central Pacific railroad, recognized that the Civil War was creating a labor shortage. So he turned to Chinese immigrants to do the job. By 1867, 12,000 of Central Pacific's13,500 workers were Chinese immigrants, who were paid between $26 and$35 for a six-day workweek of 12 hours a day. At the turn of the 20th century, Mexican immigrant laborers did most of the railroad construction in Southern California, Arizona, New Mexico and Nevada.

Mexican workers were also essential in turning the Southwest into afertile region, which by 1929 produced 40% of the United States' fruitsand vegetables. They cleared the mesquite brush of south Texas to makeroom for the expansion of agriculture, then played a primary role in the success of cotton farming in the state. A generation earlier, German immigrants from Russia and Norwegians had busted the prairie sod to turn the grasslands of North Dakota into arable fields. The major difference between then and now is that neither the American public nor the government will admit their dependence on a labor force that is heavily undocumented. When Mexican President Vicente Fox offered to provide Mexican labor to help rebuild New Orleans - "If there is anything Mexicans are good at, it is construction," he said - the federal government ignored him. At the same time, some of theundocumented Mexicans who have cleaned up and begun to rebuild Biloxi, Miss., are wondering whether they deserve at least a temporary visa so they can live in the U.S. legally.

Last week, the White House said it will push its plan to allow illegal immigrants already in the U.S. to become legal guest workers. Good. Hurricane Katrina exposed the nation's black-white divide. Post-Katrina reconstruction will soon spotlight the hypocrisy of refusing to grant legal status to those who will rebuild the Gulf Coast and New Orleans.

Monday, September 26, 2005

LA RELOAD a Success

275 or so urban youth workers convened in the shadows of the Staples Center in downtown LA at the Salvation Army center to attend the first of 20 Reload training events in the next 12 months.

I had the opportunity to lead two workshops, one on developmental youth ministry, and one in Spanish on crucial questions that we must consider to have a thriving youth ministry in the Latino church.

Also, Ramiro Medrano presented a workshop that I worked to develop, entitled, 'Igniting A Justice Revolution in Your City'. Larry Acosta has put together a great team that will blowing this event out throughout the nation. Hope to see you at one of these upcoming events!

Can an Entire City Change their Racist Past?

Check out this article on a Texas hotbed for KKK activity, and how this town has reached out to help non-white Katrina evacuees. Can people and entire cities really change? What role must the church play to make this transformation possible?