Friday, February 29, 2008

Drowning in details...

A person I admire used to say that the devil was in the details. It was an admission that we have a lot of great ideas... and they are often good, sound good, look good, even smell good on occassion but when it comes to implementing them - it's the details that kill you. The nitty, gritty, small intricate things that need to be completed (often in duplicate) to get the specifics sorted in order to get back to the big picture... and if you don't watch it you can become engulfed by details and forget what you started for...

I remember reading Terrify No More by Gary Haughan (the founder of the International Justice Mission) who suggested the hardest thing about social justice is getting started... I've a hunch it's because the work can be so detail specific that to even get to the bottom of injustice is complex let alone getting out of it and on to fighting it... and then defeating it.

I wonder if Gideon had trouble equipping the whole Israelite army with lanterns (and enough oil) and the smash and shout at the same time... did he spread the word via memos, small groups or a mass email?!

That said - the journey can also be sweet... even in the detail, if you pause enough to smell, you can catch a wiff of justice and it can carry you to the next stage. I'm committed to the long haul. I don't care how many letters, emails, posters and meetings I have to do to make a difference. I'm determined it will matter in the end. I'm praying I'll keep the big picture ever before me... gotta get a world map to put up somewhere I look everyday. The world for God. Bring it.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

First love's flame...

Was at a secret covenant ceremony tonight... ok, it wasn't really a secret - but it felt a bit covert... and was really fun.  Four warriors abandoning the world and all it's ways for the fullness of what God has for them in the Salvation Army. 
I remember recently people asking me why I thought God chose me to be a Salvation Army officer - which seems an impossible question really... I've no idea what he was thinking - his ways are higher than mine (big sigh of relief here!). 
But, I was thinking tonight that the mission of The Salvation Army - the dream of it.. the founding thoughts of a movement of people committed to live out Isaiah 58 - that makes my heart beat faster... it seems every time we celebrate the mission of The Salvation Army I fall in love again.. I know it seems odd... sometimes I try to convince myself that you can't really love an 'organisation' but the truth of it is this: I love The Salvation Army. And just like a spouse I recognise that she's not perfect... she has her faults... but still it seems - even as we grow older together... I appreciate her more and more.... here's to the constant rekindling of first love's flame... may it grow only brighter.
God speed to the latest Captains of the Australia Southern Territory. 

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Dan Rather doc on Downtown eastside...

Dan Rather doc on Downtown Eastside to air Tues.

Glenn Bohn, Vancouver Sun

Published: Friday, February 15, 2008

VANCOUVER -- A Safe Place to Shoot Up is the title of a Downtown Eastside documentary airing this Tuesday on Dan Rather Reports, a cable-TV news show hosted by one of the world's most respected television journalists.

Rather, the former anchor of CBS News, notes that the 7,000 drug injection users in Vancouver's poorest neighbourhood have a hepatitis C infection rate that's comparable to Botswana's.

He highlights the city's harm-reduction initiatives and takes his viewers into InSite, the nurse-supervised clinic near Main and Hastings where addicts are encouraged to inject illegal drugs without sharing needles, to slow the spread of deadly diseases like HIV/AIDS.

Rather, who visited the city in November and worked on the documentary with students from the University of B.C.'s graduate school of journalism, calls Vancouver "a city of contrast."

The city has "a landscape studded with snow-capped mountains, multimillion-dollar condos, cradling a downtown that's home to one of the worst urban blights in North America," the well-travelled Texan declares in the program.

Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan is introduced as "the first quadriplegic mayor of a major North American city."

"Nobody wants to be a drug addict," Sullivan tells Rather.

"I have talked to many people with drug addictions, and they all want to be healthy," says the mayor, who has confirmed that, before he was mayor, he bought heroin for a female prostitute and bought crack for a man and allowed the user to smoke the crack in Sullivan's van.

"They all want to be clean," the mayor says. "I tell you: I do not want to be a quadriplegic. I would do anything to stand up, but that's not gonna happen. That's not my life. So, I need help managing my disability, just like those people with drug addictions need help managing their disability."

Rather also explores the question of whether the city's highly visible drug problem in the Downtown Eastside will remain unchanged before the start of the 2010 Winter Olympics, now just two years away.

Rather notes that a former Liberal federal government allowed InSite to open in 2004, but that the current Conservative government is threatening to close it because Conservatives believe the clinic encourages drug use.

"For now, the federal government in Ottawa has granted InSite a stay until July, but they refuse to speak to us about their official stance on the project," Rather says.

"So, Vancouver has its work cut out for it over the next two years as it prepares to host the 2010 Winter Olympics, and the clock is running," he concludes.

"But unlike host cities of the past, which have swept their derelict residents to the edge of town, away from the limelight, Vancouver is trying to address its urban ills with a different cure that they call a harm-reduction approach, which allows addicts and prostitutes to take control of their own problems."

Sullivan tells Rather the standard response to those kinds of social problems is to put unwanted people on buses and take them away.

"I'm absolutely committed that won't be Vancouver's response," vows Sullivan, who is seeking re-election this fall.

A Safe Place To Shoot Up premieres on HDNet - a digital cable channel - this Tuesday, at 8 p.m.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

One easy step towards social justice...

Some great justice thoughts happening on the JUSTSalvo blog - check it out.

And on that note - one of the hardest things about social justice (suggests the founder of the International Justice Mission, Gary Haughan) is getting started.

Have you thought about social justice and the way you live?

One good idea:

1. buy fairtrade - this can be a pain - but a good one... a reminder of the pain developing workers face daily when their labour doesn't produce enough to feed their families. Fairtrade is trying to offer one solution - why not support it? Some people have suggested it's too expensive or it doesn't taste as good... my response has been that it's worth paying a fairprice - and it probably wouldn't do us bad to remember the cost to the labourers... and the taste - why, I can't believe you've tried enough kinds - there are a whole variety of products.. why not try fairtrade until you find one you like... speaking of which - if you are a salvo, you can even buy your fairtrade at Trade! if not, go to for a complete listing of fairtrade products in your country...

the fierce debate at Justsalvos is about chocolate... my suggestion is NOT to stop buying (or eating) chocolate.. just buy a good kind... one that you can know is 'slave free'. Buy fairtrade - it takes care of several things at once.

I mean, what is there not to like about the option to do social justice by EATING and DRINKING! whhoooo hooo.

Will it cost? yep. Is it worth it? yep. Will it bring glory to God? yep.

Why not decide to make the switch today - then tell everyone about it (especially your local cafes!). I think we could change the world.

Be blessed.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Flowers were meant to bloom

Had a great call from a friend today. She was updating me on how God was blessing her life and it made me remember when we met. It's a long and complicated story really - needless to say we first met behind a dumpster in an alley in the downtown eastside of Vancouver. Her street name was Flower. It took her half an hour to find a vein that wasn't collapsed to inject her drugs in. Now, five years later - she's a different person. Completely different. Clean, free, learning, growing - in Christian community - using her gifts for God and others. She is a miracle. She prays and worships like no-one! I love to watch her dance... and she's pretty crafty with a worship flag!

God gave me a song for her the first day we met - and He reminded me of it today- I'm pleased to say, with experience - it's true. Never doubt the saving power of Jesus. He saves. I'm so blessed to know Him and her! (ht:sh)


Flowers were meant to bloom
You will not break a reed that's bruised

Beauty for ashes

Glory for shame

We're trading our sorrows again

Flowers were meant to bloom

The Spirit is upon me, with good news

Freedom for captives

Sight for the blind

It's time for your favour again

Give us, holy passion

Give us, buring desire

Give us, zeal for your kingdom

Give us, pentecostal fire

Make us, mighty warriors

Make us, lambs who roar

Make us, warriors of righteousness

Make us, a well-watered garden

Make us, living streams

Make us, oaks of righteousness

Your Kingdom come, your will be done

on earth as it is in Heaven.

(reference Isaiah 61)

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Apology to the Stolen Generation

Apology to the Stolen Generations a step towards restoration
(from the Australian Christian Lobby)

Since taking office, the new Government has been working on an apology to the Stolen Generations. There has been an encouraging development this week as the Liberal Party, under Brendan Nelson's leadership, has decided to support the apology. Such bi-partisan support is very significant.

Please contact your Federal MP and Senators and thank them for supporting this historic apology to the Stolen Generations. The apology is due to be made on February 13 as one of the first acts of the new Parliament.

Under the policies which led to the Stolen Generations, large numbers of mixed race children were systematically removed from their families between 1910 and 1970. ACL believe it is right for our national leaders to say sorry for the dislocation, sadness and family breakdown that these policies caused to indigenous families and communities, the effects of which are still being felt today.

The wording of the apology is not yet known. ACL hopes that it avoids excuses, is specific about the attitudes and actions that caused harm, acknowledges the pain caused as a result, and seeks restoration of the relationship. At the same time it should not shift blame or guilt to those well-intentioned agencies and individuals who participated in a genuine belief that they were acting in the interests of the children.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The gambling LIE....

I was at an anti-gambling form today.
Really well organized and inspiring.. the City of Bendigo is trying to fight against more pokie machines being forced into their community... why?

1. it exploits the poor (the gaming organizers know that the economically challenged are most likely to be caught in the trap of easy and quick cash).
2. it's like poison.. gambling itself is addictive... its not just SOME people with a problem... the product of gambling is unsafe and uncontrolled - by nature it's destructive
3. it creates a normalizing function on society - where people start thinking it's completely normal for parents to spend their extra cash on the false hope of a quick buck - WHEN it's NOT!
4. a community or a society could never repay the debt that gambling creates... in communties... the cost to families and society is much higher than a simply economic chart... but even in simple economic terms... gaming takes revenue for community development out of communities!!

I'm calling on all governments everywhere to look at gambling critically. Its a short-term, lie based cash cow that wants to rob people of dignity and society of compassion. Time for some creative, colourful option of re-distribution and develpment funds that aren't taking much needed from the poor!

This was the decision of a great group of people in bendigo (including the mayor's desire)... and I pray it will be the decision of wise and responsible people everywhere! Get involved.