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.

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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. 

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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.


Tapu Te Ranga with Bruce Stewart

"I got out of jail with $25 and a dream", Bruce Steward, Stuff

At the invitation of Bruce Stewart  we are parked up at the amazing urban Marae Tapu te Ranga, a creation of Bruce and friends who built it out of recycled materials in the 1970's. This "living marae", which can accommodate 300 people, sits on 24 hectares of land given by the Sisters of Compassion next door that is being restored to its pre-human state. 

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It's an amazing place and Bruce is a living legend. He is still working tirelessly 16 hours a day not only on running the Marae and its humanitarian interests but also looking into new projects to bring housing and environmental restoration to the land he loves. 

"We need all people to have a place to practice their kaitiakitanga within their own community" Bruce Stewart

Recently at the Ngatiawa monastery, Merlene (who has now lived at both Ngatiawa and Tapu te Ranga), presented us with a painting of the Tape te Ranga Marae by Sir Michael Fowler. Its a fabulous painting and we are looking for a way to reciprocate the gift. Which is another reason we are here.

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Bruce Stewart is an activist, a writer/poet and a playwright. One of his more recent poems is written about Te Raekaihau Point.

On a clear winters day to the East there is often a sprinkling of fresh snow on the Orongorongo...
to the south in the foreground, Tapu Te Ranga Motu and far far beyond The White peaks of rise out of the horizon…
Every now and again it all comes together…
extreme beauty...
ahhh it is indeed absolute beauty beyond words…
if only I were a painter...
it is so close to get so far…
I go there often to refuel the soul…
these days as I can no longer fish and dive or even walk…
I wind down the window so I can hear and smell and feel this special place where surf, sand, seagulls, and the sky play together.
I let the healing winds of Te Rae Kaihau wash over me…
sometimes I snooze…
it is my outdoor Cathedral.

Egypt: 2 Years Later

So it's 2 years after the historic Protest at Tahrir Square and things are still really really dodgy in Egypt. Some great stories, but much suffering and hardship.

As you probably know, we went to Cairo in 2011 during a very difficult patch for the church and were there to witness the historic all night prayer meeting with 70,000 people. 

We also met with Christian protestors and activists who were trying to bring peace. 

One of them we have been trying to get out of the country but have failed. He asked me yesterday how it was going and I told him that the immigration lawyer working on his case has left his job and there is no one to help him. I felt awful when I said that but it's the truth. Someone else will have to pick up his case and I just dont have the resources to do it. 

Another young Christian activist we met was almost killed a number of times recently but managed to escape the country last month. His beatings were so severe that he has fainting spells and has spent much of this week in an Asian hospital. I managed to asked an Aussie friend to spot him some money to pay his hospital bills which he did. We now owe Aus$200 and more is needed to get our friend's hospital's bills paid and for him to get to a safer country. $1500 would go a long way.

If you can help, send me an email at tallskinnykiwi at gmail dot com and I will give you more details.

He is still making videos to expose the corruption and brutality going on in that country, as well as the miracles of God, but I cant show you anymore until he arrives in a safe country.

Here's some pictures of his injuries. Pray for him. Please. If he gets sent back to Egypt he will not live very long.

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Tallskinnykiwi interview with Frank Viola

My friend Frank Viola just posted an interview he did with me a few months ago. Its about blogging and the early days of Christian blogging.

You might have noticed that I have only been blogging once a week at the most and over the past year I haven't spent much time at all in the social media world. This is because we have been on the road without wifi, hanging out in a monastery, or sometimes just enjoying those REAL face to face relationships and down to earth moments like fixing our truck, taking long baths, cooking and being human. 

But I do plan on putting my blogging hat back on pretty soon. Just not right away.

Back anyway, have a read of the interview. I am going over there right now to read it myself.

And if you get the chance, check out Frank's many books. He's a great writer and Bible teacher, as well as the co-author of Pagan Christianity.


Catching up

A little catch up with me . . 

- Our family has just spent a whole year in a monastery, enjoying the prayers three times daily and being. We leave here in a week or so and will be back on the road, and hopefully with more time to blog and write. It was a wonderful time and a good transition from our overseas wanderings

- Our son Sam gets married next month to Jenna so there is lots of preparation and planning to do. 

- One of our Christian Egyptian friends managed to escape into another country but the injuries he sustained from a beating last month have left a medical bill of US$600 which needs to be paid. We are hoping to get him to a European country soon. Another brother who we were trying to help leave the country is still there, much to our disappointment.

- Interesting to hear Steve Chalke's announcement yesterday on the homosexual issue. I had just emailed his daughter when I read of it. 

- Emergence Christianity event with Phyllis Tickle sounded interesting. I must have a listen when I can. 

- Yesterday we recycled some doors from the toilet block into a kitchen cabinet for our truck. 

- More guests coming over today to camp out with us in the paddock we are in. We have two fire baths now so we can offer a nice hot soak under the stars. 

- I might stop over in USA on route from Europe in May, where I am speaking at Kirchentag Festival. 


Synchroblog: Serving the homeless

This post is part of today's Synchroblog on Serving Others in the New Year

"We can't solve hunger by throwing cans of food at people. We can't solve the homeless problem by sentencing vagrants to a life of unaffordable mortgage repayments." I said that a few months ago, as part of our Worldwide Dinner Party.

But what what can we do to serve the homeless?

I suggest in the New Year we rethink ministry to the homeless by taking a step closer, getting to know some homeless people as friends, not as targets of compassion. Maybe that means inviting them over for a meal or even better, get yourself invited to one of their meals. Hang out with them. Hear them out. Find out what their needs really are, not what you think they are. 

Here's a crazy idea: Instead of a summer holiday in a nice safe place, why not go homeless with your family for a few weeks? Go to a squat. Park at the beach. Stay in your tent. Sleep in your car. Go without showers. Turn up to church smelly and unshaven. 

And then try to tackle the problem of homelessness and the one billion people who live in the world's squats. 

Many years ago, I met a homeless guy in Portland Oregon and he became my friend. 

Paul had set up a tent in a large forested area near the Willamette river, about a mile away from our house in Sellwood. I invited him over for a meal but he actually didn't need food. He was quite capable of cooking for himself. Paul was a Vietnam vet and knew how to look after himself much better than I did. Food was not his problem. Neither was accommodation his problem - he was quite happy in his tent and had lived this way for a long time. 

But he did have some needs. Two of them, actually.

Firstly, he wanted to use our washing machine. Washing clothes by hand is easy enough but when you don't want to be spotted on government land then hanging up clothes to dry can be precarious. Especially when you have a big load. So he turned up with a big bag of dirty linen and took over our laundry. Afterwards, he insisted on chopping some wood for us so we could be even, and stay even, in our mutual friendship. 

Secondly, and more importantly, he needed a mailing address. Could he use ours? This was more of a long term commitment but we realized how incredibly valuable it would be for him so we agreed. Whenever mail came for him, we would put it aside until he turned up, which was every few weeks. It was a great gift for him. It was something he actually needed. He never stayed for a meal. He just took his mail and asked if he could chop some more wood.

That was 20 years ago when I had a house. These days, I am mostly homeless myself, with my wife and kids, as we travel from one country to the next on our itinerant mission. In the past 4 years we have spent most nights wild camping at beaches, parking lots, farms, gas stations, squats, and occasionally, when we have the money, a camping park. 

I have become voluntarily homeless for the sake of the gospel. But that doesnt mean there is a shortage of places to stay.

Being nomadic and often homeless places me a little closer to those without shelter or the one billion people living in semi-legal or illegal temporary housing - thats one in every 7 people on the planet. I don't feel like I have all the answers but by taking living in a similar fashion, I can talk to them as one of them and we can discuss solutions together. 

And thats a start.

This month we are heading up an experiment called Tent Village. We have invited people to join us in living in a paddock for a month. We managed to raise $1500 (not the $5000 we were looking for) to build an outdoor kitchen and we are about to buy the materials to construct it. If you are in New Zealand this month, come over, pitch your tent and join us in rethinking the problems of the world.