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Posts from February 2013

Can I bleed on your carpet?

A great mystic and dear friend of mine passed away a few days ago. He was not feeling well and laid down on his wife's lap. He didn't get up.

Steve Malakowsky, or Steve M as most people knew him, was a poet, mystic, a Jeremiah-type prophet, a father and a builder.

He was an unique mix of humanity, at odds with the church and passionate about lifting street kids out of destructive lifestyles and onto the path of Jesus. Steve dressed hippie, acted punk, wrote goth and expressed himself with post-industrial urban grunge. His more recent work mixing street art with words seemed to bring those disparate elements together. His early poetry was dark, often ink-black but always punctuated with the hope of a God who was waiting to heal what was broken and restore outcasts to Himself. 

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 I met Steve in the late 90's when we were both trying to reach throwaway kids on the streets of USA. He in Phoenix and I in San Francisco. With the support of Dr E.B. Brooks and the Baptist General Convention of Texas, and Tim Andrews of SomeKids Lunch we produced a small movie that explored the plight of the broken generation in Atlanta. That movie touched a nerve and opened doors for ministry all over USA.

Steve M was the author of Tattoo, the founder of Beauty for Ashes, Outcast Press, Hope Thru Art (Facebook) and the co-founder of the Underground Railroad, one of the very first networks of ministries among the alternative scene. I have often referred to it as one of the earliest emerging church networks in USA and possibly the first to go international. By the time I hooked up with trevor M and Steve M at the Underground Railroad Roundtable at Cornerstone Festival in the late 90's, there was already strong links to similar movements in Europe and beyond. The idea of roundtables inside festivals was something that our ministry has used extensively and successfully over the past decade.

Steve M wrote poetry that explored the deep brokenness of a generation unacknowledged by the mainstream world and unwanted by a church that he felt was more interested in carpet than kids. Dozens, possibly hundreds, of these incredibly insightful and penetrating poems were printed as "street sheets" and distributed in inner cities around the world. They were profound. They connected with people on a deep level. They brought tears and understanding and a small glimmering light at the end of a dark tunnel.

I have read a few of his poems aloud inside churches, but there is one that will always stay with me. Its called "Therapy".

can i take my addictions into your church

can i sit on your padded pews

can i bleed on your carpet or do you want

me when i'm clean and not now.

can i take my addictions into your theology

is it big enough to face my pain

or will i stain your glass with street smells

and sweat

where can i go

where can i go when i'm addicted . . .

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 Both photos by Alexa Gibbon

 Hope Thru Art will be continued by Steve's kids and his lovely wife Barb who could use your prayers and support.


Mermaids

We are in Lower Hutt at an Anglican community. Our truck is parked outside and we are listening to Nic Cave's new record Push The Sky Away as it spins around on Josh's 1957 Astor. Nice album. Reminds me of Jonny Cash, gospel, blues and Proverbs, especially those struggles around relationships and temptations of Mermaids.


There were 14 people in out truck coming away from Passionfest. Most of those people are still with us. Headed north. Hoping to find some work in the vineyards for the Germans among us.

 


5 things I am learning about social justice

PassionFest is going well. About 350-400 people here for this Christian based social justice festival. I spoke last night on 5 things I have learned and am learning about social justice. For those of you ask me to blog it, here they are.

1. We won't solve the problems of our city by loving the poor but despising the rich. The poor need resources and the rich have resources. Lets bring them together.

2. We won't solve the problem of hunger by throwing cans of food at people without empowering them to grow and cook their own food.

3. We won't solve the problem of homelessness by sentencing people to a lifetime of unaffordable mortgage payments for a house that is too large for their needs and too expensive to heat or cool when we can offer sustainable building solutions and alternative residential communities.

4. We won't solve the problem of unemployment by crippling people with student debt for a qualification that might not actually land them a job when we could assist them to become creative and successful entrepreneurs.

5. We won't solve the problem of global poverty by sponsoring people to do nothing except to look poor and needy for our photos (somebody say mission porn) without freeing them to live sustainably, creatively and to put their gift into the world.

Last year was awesome also and I made a little video of PassionFest 2012

 


Wedding Day

Today is the big day for our family. Our Number One son Sam marries Jenna White. All very exciting. Lots of airport pickups. I got to bed at 3am last night.

In a few hours we host the wedding ceremony. The pig is already on the spit. Yes, we are taking lots of photos and video. Show you in a few days time.

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If I was Pope

Wishing Pope Benedict XVI a smooth transition into his next phase of life as simply Joseph Ratzinger. What a surprise!!

I was thinking of running for Pope.

Change is good. I have been a Baptist, an Anglican, and a Presbyterian, but never a Catholic.

And besides that, the Catholics have the coolest church buildings, especially those from the 1950's and 60's. Of course I would need a retro suit to match it.

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If I was Pope I wouldn't live in Vatican City or Rome. I think I would stay in Tuscany on a vineyard. Maybe Assisi. Its lovely there. 

If I was Pope I would have strong words with my bankers. Those guys have been naughty.

If I was Pope I would commend the South Americans for their great innovations. Maybe even move the HQ down to Sao Paulo.

If I was Pope I wouldn't change the robes. But mine would need to be longer than the last guy.

If was Pope my Popemobile would be 4X4.

If I was Pope I would start an Italian pizza chain and use it to support mission efforts among the poor. 

And that's just a start.

How about you? What would you do if you were Pope?

Related:  3 Things the Emerging Church took from the Catholics

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Remembering Richard Twiss

My friend Richard Twiss just passed away from a massive heart attack. He was a great man, activist, thinker, a pioneer and spokesperson for First Nations people in general and Native Americans in particular. Cody L. has some good thoughts and links

I first met Richard 24 years ago in Vancouver, Washington when I was a very young associate pastor and Richard purchased our church building for his congregation.

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The last time I saw him was in South Africa at the 2011 Cape Town Lausanne World Congress.

Very few people know this, and perhaps the story will never be fully released, but Richard and a few of his (our) activist mates felt the Lausanne Congress could have done better in addressing the needs of First Nations peoples as well as owning up to the past transgressions of apartheid, a subject they felt was conveniently ignored at the Cape Town meeting. They wrote a paper for the participants (I still have a copy) and for a while, there was the possibility of a kind of public disturbance that would bring these matters to the whole Congress. They decided on a different path, however, and nothing newsworthy happened. Which was good because Richard had actually roped me into video taping the proposed events, if and when they happened, and I was quite relieved that Richard and the others chose a more long term solution of tackling this blindness. 

What a guy. He refused to rest on his accomplishments but was still pushing for more justice. Once an activist, always an activist . . .

I once mentioned Richard in an article I wrote for Christianity Today.

"What do we go out to the desert to see? Do we see cheap fireworks, casinos, and tacky souvenirs? Or a special people called out by God for global missions in this new millennium? That's what my friend Richard Twiss sees.

Richard is a member of the Rosebud Lakota/Sioux Tribe and President of Wiconi International. "No other people group is so uniquely positioned for global missions as First Nations people are today," says Richard, whose mission sends out teams of "Native men and women who follow the Jesus Way and are skilled traditional drummers, singers, and dancers, to communicate the love of the Father with audiences worldwide."

In the past three years teams from Richard's mission have seen thousands come to know the Creator in outdoor events and house meetings in the country of Pakistan. It seems God is raising up a post-colonial mission force out of the margins of our own culture, out of a people who have felt the sting of colonialism themselves.

Andrew Jones, What did you go out to see? 


Wilf and Jan and 50 years of marriage

Wilf and Jan Wright have been married 50 years. They invited us to their wedding anniversay and we had a hoot. Their photographer forgot his camera but I had mine - yes someone donated a camera to replace my old Panasonic which was stolen by Christians in Egypt (another story) and I now have an awesome 5 year old Canon 40d which is my first DSLR ever.

Anyway they asked me if I had taken any photos of them and behold, I actually did snap off a couple, including this one which they really liked. They are such a great couple! Click on the image to enlarge it and check out this couple who got married in 1963 right across the road at the quaint little St Andrews Church, and are still deeply in love and enjoying life together.

Wilf and jan 50

Wilf and Jan still run the Reikorangi Pottery Park and Cafe which turned out to be one of the favourite haunts of the LOTR crew. There is a story about Aragorn and Legolas and a midnight river swim in the freezing river outside this cafe which, btw,  will also be the venue where my son gets married in a week's time. 


Living Lighter

We just finished volunteering at the Organic River Festival. It's an amazing thing to set up a village out of nothing, share a great experience with a lot of people, and then pack it all down again. 

Organic river festival ecofest

Highlights were hanging out with young people from Germany and France (WOOFers) who were the main volunteer force, hearing some good music, meeting some house truckers, and thinking through what it means to live lighter on the earth, so that others who share our planet can also live.

Our truck is fully solar powered and we have been collecting rain water,  all of which is good, but our next step will be to convert it to vegetable oil sometime this year. 

Thinking global. Trying hard to act local.