Wow, welcome back. Its been a while, but I have mostly been posting over at Facebook and Instagram. Its not like there isn’t a lot to say, I have just enjoyed posting small updates with images that back what we are up to. It’s Christmas time, and lots has been going on, so I figured this would be the perfect venue to share.

On Wednesday, September 2, 2015, the world was, for the most part, unaware and unengaged with the refugee crises in Syria, or any refugee crisis happening in the world. This all changed when on September 2, 2015, three-year-old Aylan Kurdi’s young body washed up on a beach in Turkey. Images of the boy wearing a red shirt, shorts and sneakers, lying face down in the sand were plastered all over Twitter, Facebook, and news media. Other images showed a rescue worker carrying the lifeless body of Kurdi across the sand. Kurdi and his family were crossing Turkey, hoping to reach Europe and then move on to Canada where his sister worked as a hairdresser. The boat that the family was on capsized, and Abdulla, the boy’s father, lost both of his children and his wife in the accident.

Within 24 hours the Twitter hashtag #kiyiyavuraninsanlik, which is a Turkish phrase meaning “humanity washed up ashore,” was used on Twitter 200,000 times. All of a sudden this lifeless little boy brought awareness to the world of the refugee crisis. From then on, there were daily reports, updates, images and stories of people fleeing their homes in boats to reach Greece and to be resettled across Europe.

In the months that followed Kurdi’s body washing up on shore, it was a regular occurrence to read about more boats capsizing, and loss of life as more people crossed more people crossing the Sea for freedom. As a result, campaigns started in the United States and other countries to respond to the crisis, either welcoming refugees or lobbying to keep them out.

Since that day, 15 months ago, I have been anxious to befriend and connect with the Syrian community. Over the past five months, since moving to San Diego, our family has been doing just that. There is so much to write, but since it’s Christmas, I will share what we were apart of last Saturday, December 17.

Steps of Justice, the non-profit help run, hosted a Christmas party for the Syrian refugees in our city. Over the past five months we have been hosting regular events for these new neighbors of ours, which led up to this Christmas party. There are over 1,400 Syrians in our city, so we were not sure how many were going to show up, but by the end of the evening we had over 150 Syrians there, some who have lived here for years, some who have only been here for weeks. We also had over 100 volunteers from the Muslim and Christian community.

During the five hour party we danced, ate lots of food, took countless pictures, played Kurdish music, and shared the story of Christmas and how Jesus came to earth to spread the peace of God. Many of my friends were there, seen in the picture above, and many new friendships were made. It was an honor to help put this event on. We worked with the Christian and Muslim community to serve our new neighbors, it was a beautiful thing to work together.

Our prayer is that these relationships would continue. I am blessed to spend five days a week working primarily in a neighborhood that hosts many of the Syrian families, so I get to see these families often. My prayer is that they would see the love of Jesus for them, and not just see Jesus as a western religion. Please keep us in your prayers and at any time, please feel fee to connect with us if you have thought, questions or just encouragement.

Peace.

 

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IMG_2544This past weekend was the Super Bowl in the USA. Along with all the fun, good, gatherings and excitement there is a dirty little secret, forced prostitution.

Statistics have it that up to 10,000 girls are brought into Super Bowl cities each year by pimps. These girls will be be used and taken advantage of by men. Regardless of those numbers being correct or not, or even if it’s only one girl being brought in, it is an injustice.

This past week a few of us met in San Fransisco to bring awareness of this issue. We went to over 40 hotels and gas stations sharing with desk clerks about forced child prostitution and gave out information on missing girls along with the human trafficking hot line. We heard some heartbreaking stories and brought this issue into the light with many who had no idea it was happening.

It’s easy to do justice. All it takes is you and I taking a stand against what is wrong and promoting what is right. Thanks to you who support us in the ministry here. We pray that you have a great week and anticipate the amazing things God had in store for you.

Phil, Amy and the kids.

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IMG_4168I am sitting in Norway where its cold, dark and far away from my usual American Thanksgiving, yet I am very thankful. There are many things that I could complain about, but that is easy and not very encouraging to anyone. Today on this American Thanksgiving lets commit to be thankful regardless of our circumstances. God knows our needs and he, our heavenly father and provider will meet them.

Here are a few things that have marked my life over the past year:

  • The great community we were a part of with YWAM Kona
  • My family who brought countless times of laughter and joy
  • Amy
  • Travel
  • The early mornings that I was able to sit, drink good coffee, read, pray and reflect
  • The respect the corners Cross fit box in Kona
  • Friends who asked me the hard questions
  • A health marriage
  • Seeing my children smile
  • Opportunities to teach, lead mission trips and facilitate times of learning
  • Coming to Norway to be apart of the Justice DTS
  • Breath
  • Health
  • Music
  • My iPhone 4S (old but keeps on going)
  • Refugees being received and welcomed
  • Freedom
  • Peace
  • Direction
  • Faith
  • The scholarship I received for pursuing my masters degree
  • Support
  • The thanksgiving meal I am going to eat on Saturday.

There are so many things to be thankful for. There are also many things to complain about (legitimate complaints for sure). Today though, lets live in a place of thanksgiving, hope and life.

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adventI wonder if the world has always been as messed up and broken as it is right now or are we just hearing about it more now because of the internet and social media? In my 0pinion, it has always been this messed up and broken, but now we know about it instantly.

This is a gift to us from the Lord. Really, it is. Back before social media and instant news through the internet we would hear about issues of brokenness and injustice during the 5 o clock news or in the next days paper. Now we hear about brokenness less than a minute after it happens.

This, though a gift to us comes with it a huge responsibility, the responsibility to act, to do, to respond. So many times in my life I have looked back and said “oh man, I wish I had of done something about that issue of brokenness and pain.” If I had only known sooner I could have responded. Well guess what, now we do know about it sooner, like right away.

How are we dealing with this as followers of Jesus and advocates for equal and universal human rights? My prayer is that we are dealing with it by responding. There are a few ways we can respond:

  1. Pray
  2. Give
  3. Share
  4. Go

We should at lease be doing one of these things every time we hear about the brokenness in our world. In the past month there have been many ways to respond, unfortunately. There has been:

  1. Refugees coming over from Syria
  2. Mass killing in Paris, Lebanon and Nigeria
  3. ISIS

We need to respond. lets never look back with regret saying “I wish I had done something more.” It only takes a few seconds to pray, a few minutes to share and a few dollars to go. Lets do something.

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ReCreateI like coffee, I like good chocolate, I like soft t-shirts and I like justice. I also work for a non profit organization and raise all my own support, so I am very conscience about money and what I spend it on. We all live by faith, faith that we won’t lose our jobs, faith that our jobs will still be there tomorrow, faith that (I’m my situation) my supporters will no lose their jobs so that support continues to come in. As a result of this, I used to spend minimal dollars on things that I need/want, like chocolate, coffee and soft t-shirts.

Lets go back to the first sentence where I wrote ‘I like justice.’ Justice is a right relationship between God, man and creation. Justice is giving that which is due, injustice is the abuse of that. When I purchase goods at the cheapest price there is a good chance I am not giving that which is due, but actually doing an injustice. When I purchase something that is fair or direct trade then I am (to the best of my knowledge) giving that which is due and doing justice.

I used buy the cheapest things, and sometimes still do. To be brutally honest I am hesitant to spend a lot of money because I am cheap. I live in the space that if I  buy the cheaper brand I am being a good steward of the money I receive, when in reality I am actively living in a way that I hate, unjust.

I have been challenged lately with my view of God as father and provider. Does God care about justice? Yes. Does God want me to do justice? Yes. Is God a provider? Yes. So if God cares about justice, if God wants me to do justice and if God is a provider then why in the H would I purchasing the cheap goods at the risk of doing injustice? I should be purchasing goods that are ethically made, pay a living wage and provide jobs and life for the farmer growing the coffee, cotton and cocoa that I buy?

Do I have enough faith that God will provide for me if I spend more money on items that I know are giving life to others? This is my hope and prayer. I have faith in a God who does justice, yet I struggle with the thought of “can I buy this as I am not sure how much money I will have next month.” I am not talking about consumerism here, I am talking about using our money to give life to others and in turn meet a desire that I have.

Finally (for now) buying ethically made goods taste better, last longer and make you feel better about yourself in the long run, which is all around a beautiful thing.

Check out a few places doing great things:

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