An Open Door to Understanding

Stephanie Ebert – August 28, 2015 3 Comments

All People Blog

I was born and raised in Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa, a province where over 80 percent of the inhabitants are first-language isiZulu speakers. But I am one of those missionary kids who dreads the exclamation, “Oh! You’re an MK! How many languages do you speak?”

The answer? One.

I speak one language; English.

I attended public school, where I studied isiZulu, and went to an isiZulu-speaking church. Despite living where the majority don’t speak English as a first language, I got by comfortably with only English. In South Africa, English is the medium of instruction in high-school and university education. Although South Africa has 11 official languages, English is the language of international prestige, business and education. Everyone is trying to learn English. Because I am a first-language English speaker, I’m privileged. Everyone is trying to learn my language and I can avoid learning anyone else’s language.

But recently, I was convicted to work a bit harder at my isiZulu. Multiple compelling reasons brought me to that conclusion, but one of them has to do with bridging the racial and cultural divides that still exist in South Africa.  Continue Reading…

Hanging with the kids

Ruth Arnold – August 11, 2015 4 Comments

All People blog

Imagine having a 12-year old child. You spend long hours with them, playing games, shopping together and having conversations about life. You take them with you on your morning run and work together on household chores. You love your 12-year-old and you love getting quality time with them.

Now, imagine welcoming over your child’s 25 closest friends from school to hang out. Think about the noise level, the things that make them laugh, and the general interactions, the games that they enjoy playing, the conversations that are interesting and the activities that are fun for a 12-year-old. Can you imagine?

Do you consider this fun? I’m not asking if you consider it a great opportunity to invest in the lives of your child and their friends once a year on their birthday. Is this the type of environment you would enjoy spending time hanging out in every week?  Maybe twice-a-week? Would you feel refreshed, energized and sharpened? Would it be easy for you to enter into mutually-meaningful, life-giving conversations? Would they tend to be the friends with whom you would hang out?

Chances are, you really do enjoy something like this once or twice per year. Perhaps you enjoy this more often as a way to invest in the lives of others, but the reality is, it probably isn’t your first thought regarding the group of friends you would seek out for yourself.

A welcome realization

Continue Reading…

Stay On Mission

Alex Mandes – August 4, 2015 6 Comments

All People Blog

On July 24, I was quoted in a Christianity Today article about Franklin Graham’s comments toward a Muslim man who killed soldiers at a recruiting center in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The 24-year-old Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez, born in Kuwait, shot seven, killing four.

Here is part of what Franklin wrote on his Facebook page:

“We are under attack by Muslims at home and abroad. We should stop all immigration of Muslims to the U.S. until this threat with Islam has been settled. Every Muslim that comes into this country has the potential to be radicalized–and they do their killing to honor their religion and Muhammad. During World War II, we didn’t allow Japanese to immigrate to America, nor did we allow Germans. Why are we allowing Muslims now? Do you agree? Let your Congressman know that we’ve got to put a stop to this and close the flood gates.”

I wanted to give more of what I said and what else I should have said. It’s not that I was misquoted or that I want to set the record straight, but when you are interviewed, a small fraction of what you say makes it into the article and the next day you wish you added something else.

First, condolences to the families of the dead and injured. I am from San Antonio, Texas, which has four bases and we love our military men and women. I see them come to town scared and leave chiseled and purposed. I pray with them on planes and they receive those prayers. Your loss is our loss and may God comfort you.

With that said, I told Christianity Today that I was saddened that one of “our guys” gave political solutions. Graham gave a political solution that gets batted back and forward about immigration in Congress and it’s getting nowhere. If the church provides nothing to add, we are in a sorrier state than I thought in America.  Continue Reading…

Learning a Second Language

Alex Mandes – July 9, 2015 4 Comments

All People Blog

Here’s a joke that hits pretty close to home when talking about Americans and their linguistic abilities:

What do you call someone who speaks three languages? Trilingual.

What do you call someone who speaks two languages? Bilingual.

What do you call someone who speaks only one language? American.

Most high schools and colleges only require two years of a foreign language. Just because high schools and colleges lowered their standards does not mean we should follow suit. We have a another calling.

Let me give you 10 reasons why you should learn a second language, regardless of educational requirements:  Continue Reading…

Se Habla English

Alex Mandes – July 7, 2015 1 Comment

All People Blog

I received a rude awakening when my mother enrolled me in kindergarten at Saint Patrick’s. I was born in Corpus Christi, Texas, but for the first five years of my life, I spoke mostly Spanish,

In that kindergarten class, I was reprimanded for speaking and told by my teacher that, “only donkeys speak Spanish.” I learned to speak English muy rapido!

However, I got the last laugh because when I entered college, I placed out of 17 hours of foreign language. Back then, students were required to learn a second language, but that stopped years ago at many schools.

Today, there is concern that immigrants are creating areas only speaking Spanish. I’m not sure where that “concern” comes from. It is clear that older immigrants have a difficult time learning English, but these older immigrants are adamant that their young charges learn English.  Continue Reading…

Let Us Stand for the Benediction

Alvin Sanders – June 30, 2015 4 Comments
All People Blog

Alvin Sanders (center, in blue) and Bill Hamel (center-right in grey) receive a prayer of blessing June 16 at EFCA One in Vista, Calif.

The word benediction comes from the Latin for, “to speak well of.” In a church setting, we say a benediction usually at the end of a worship service, blessing the congregation as they leave.

Last week at the EFCA One conference, I participated in my last workshop, “Discipling All People.” I played a small role, but all the training was done by my team. The fact that I only participated and didn’t do any teaching tells the story of just how far we have come in our EFCA All People Initiative.

Today is my final official day at the EFCA. As I wrap up my seven-year tenure at the national office, it is moments like the workshop that make me rejoice. I rejoice that in October 2007 I started in a part-time position and leave a team of six dedicated people. I rejoice that the room was full, a far cry from when I conducted my first workshop. And maybe my biggest celebration comes from the fact that we now stand at 22 percent of our churches classifying themselves at ethnic or multicultural, and 47 percent of surveyed EFCA churches desire to reach across ethnic lines. Continue Reading…

Failure is an Option

Alvin Sanders – June 27, 2015 Leave a comment

All People Blog

I read an article a few years back about a successful movie producer. I learned that many of the movies we see were first produced in another part of the world, like Europe or Asia.

The producer stated that if a movie plot he borrowed from another part of the world ended in failure (like the hero didn’t get the girl, or dies in the end, or the villain gets away with his or her evil scheme) he has the scriptwriters change the ending for American audiences. Why?

Because the producer has discovered that Americans typically will not pay to see a movie that doesn’t end happily-ever-after. The main characters cannot end in failure, in order for American audiences to embrace them. Often, I wonder how my American view, not embracing failure, affects my faith.  Continue Reading…

5 Biblical Themes on Material Wealth

Alvin Sanders – June 25, 2015 Leave a comment

All People Blog

Here are five biblical themes on material wealth, using Craig Blomberg’s book, Neither Poverty nor Riches, as a reference.

Spiritual and material matters are inseparable

Spiritual health and material stewardship are intertwined.

  • Giving reveals the heart (Acts 5:1-11)
  • Wealth operates as powerfully as a god in this world (Matt.6:24)

The Goodness of Wealth

Continue Reading…

All People Blog

The following is an invitation from Dave Clark, CCDA Operations and Program Director. After the horrific events at historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, in Charleston, South Carolina, we must come together as the Church of Jesus Christ. Read Clark’s email below and join other churches across the country.  Continue Reading…

Can You See It?

Alvin Sanders – June 18, 2015 Leave a comment

All People Blog

A huge component of leading with reconciliation in mind is casting and cascading vision. You need to paint a clear picture of what the future looks like. With that in mind, here is a re-blog from my colleague Tim Addington:

We all know that vision leaks – which is why many ministries that thought they had a common vision wake up one day and discover that it is no longer true. Almost every ministry leader has vision – and believes that everyone in his/her organization know that vision.

But ask around and in many cases what the leader thinks others know is not so. Or, they may tell you, it is the leader’s vision, not theirs. Shared vision is evident when everyone in the organization can tell you where the ministry is headed. Every ministry faces the question, “How do we sustain our vision for the long run?”

It starts with having a God sized and God given vision in the first place. People are not captivated by small dreams but God sized dreams. When we have a vision that is larger than us and which can only be accomplished through God’s power, and which significantly contributes to His purposes, it is a powerful thing.  Continue Reading…