Seven

I can’t stand your religious meetings.
I’m fed up with your conferences and conventions. I want nothing to do with your religion projects,
your pretentious slogans and goals. I’m sick of your fund-raising schemes,
your public relations and image making. I’ve had all I can take of your noisy ego-music.
When was the last time you sang to Me? Do you know what I want?
I want justice—oceans of it. I want fairness—rivers of it.
That’s what I want. That’s all I want.

Amos 5:21-24

Things had been growing mighty dim for Misty and I. The desert had sand blasted us, ground us down, an abrasive torrent of grit and pain. Oppressive heat waves gripped the land, our atmosphere of joy bombarded by fear and desperation. We felt trapped behind bars and razor wire, ducking, looking over our shoulders every second, closing the door, locking the locks, checking them again. We drive through the madness, tinted windows, locked within a cab: secure, alone.

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Often sitting deep inside, peeking out from beneath the wings of God, a craving would grow for courage to walk the streets, but we could not shake the feeling our freedom had been robbed from us. We were up against the ropes, a barrage of kidney punches. Clawing, biting, scrambling for hope.

Then hope came in the form of friends and family, brave souls choosing to cross into our world and stare fear in the face with us. They arrived like a refreshing afternoon summer rain, a rain where the sun is still shining and all you want to do is turn your face towards the heavens with a wide smile, close your eyes and dance. It repelled the oppression, sent it reeling in the wake of the love, joy and peace they brought with them. We did not realize how tired and thirsty that we had become until they arrived.

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Living in Ciudad Juarez has been the most difficult thing Misty or I have ever done in our lives, especially as this city is carving new records in the history books each month: Over 250 murders in July. 300 murders in August. September has started off more grim with 19 murdered last night alone. Juarez is surging, lurching, groaning, wanting, crying, needing, praying, looking for help. This city, this desert, has built our faith, tested our strength. It has shown us what hope looks like. It has unveiled God’s raging heart for justice and fairness and shown us that we cannot wish this world into change, but we have to get dirty, bloody, step into the wave (even if it’s scary). We are awed by all of you who have stepped into the madness with us, all of you who have chosen to align yourselves with your Mexican brothers and sisters, all of you who lean on the hope of redemption, jubilee, rain from Heaven.

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Although death’s yellow claws, chipped and cracked, have raked over our own neighborhood this summer, change is coming to Colonia Palo Chino. Hope is not lost in the shimmering heat nor in the gross turbulence of violence and death. No, justice is coming like a mighty flood and a river of righteous living will follow. And it will never run dry. Never.

*One of the treasures of friends and family that visit us is learning from their perspective on the work and challenges, and their voice in bringing solutions to the problems in Juarez. These perspectives are enlightening, and bring us balance as we go forward here. Thanks to Jenah for her inspiring photography. Visit Seven for a powerful perspective on our neighborhood, Colonia Palo Chino.

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12 Responses to “Seven”

  1. Beautiful!

  2. Who posted ‘The Courage Project’ on No More Trouble? Love it.

  3. The Courage Project is Chris Knott’s work. We are stoked about what God is doing through him…

  4. jikarner Says:

    Dude, Amos is tearing us a new one! From how many hundreds of years back? I know that Isaiah 54:17, Ephesians 6:12, and Psalm 23 are bordering on cliche (especially for missionaries), but man, what promises! GOD has our backs!

    Can’t wait to see you two.

  5. jikarner Says:

    So, just after I wrote that last comment I read this:

    Psalm 121:1 [[A Song of degrees.]] I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.

    2 My help [cometh] from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.

    3 He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.

    4 Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.

    5 The LORD [is] thy keeper: the LORD [is] thy shade upon thy right hand.

    6 The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.

    7 The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.

    8 The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.

  6. Wow! You guys are inspiring! Thank you for sharing your hearts and being transparent. This blog has been amazing…and the pictures you have on Seven demand to be stared at. My prayers are with you all.

    Brian

  7. Waves. You two are waves of truth followed by waves of hope.

    Thanks so much for holding onto both. Our visit with you two, getting to finally see your life in Palo Chino was a shot of new life. Today, I was transcribing all of my notes (the ones I keep in my back-pocket journal) into new journal. There were ideas, and action items, but there were also words.

    Words like: “Fruition”, “No More Waiting”, (Casa Palo Chino), “Beyond Intention”, an angel with “Fierce Eyes”, “Waves”, and “Love Wins.”
    Missing you guys – AJ, JJ, IJ

  8. Isaac,

    Verses like that are the vestiges of hope that we have clung to in the desert. As the darkness around us crept closer, the light within us, our sonship, God within us has shined brighter. “The darker the night the brighter the day, the fiercer the fight, the stronger the faith.” Our hope is in him who is able…

    You lift us up, bro. Thanks.

  9. Brian,

    You words are are a treasure to us. Thanks for spurring us on.

    m&m

  10. Aj,

    We are still digesting and feeding on those words from our time with you. They have carried us, lifted us and driven us forward in these past weeks. Your visit here has truly sustained us. We are stoked for a deep rest but amazed that God has accomplished so much in us and through us in the midst of our most tired state. It is just like God to flip it; strength in weakness, light in the darkness… He is so good.

    matt

  11. I think I’m going to start using this quote:
    “It is just like God to flip it”
    aj

  12. Kiery Says:

    You guys are doing a great job of keeping us informed of your growing love for the people of Palo Chino. Your tender heart for them is revealed through your careful selection of words that grip our hearts and through the pictures that bring home what you are trying to express. (Thanks to all the courageous souls who document the reality in Juarez by taking pictures that speak so much louder than any words.) So many of us want to know everything you see and feel, everything that you touch and touches you. Keep sharing what you see and feel in every way possible. What you are experiencing is so far removed from what most of us in the USA can even imagine, we need all the help you can give us to catch your contagious spirit of compassion for Juarez. Your well chosen words, interspersed with appropriate pictures makes your message clear and real. Share the pictures and the true stories everywhere you go and let the Holy Spirit speak to those whose hearts are tender. It has to be the Holy Spirit who challenges others to join in the fight for Juarez. Your part is to share the need as clearly and completely as you can.

    God bless you guys for braving the barren, lonely desert with your Lord.

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