Saturday, May 28, 2011

Hospitality is our Ministry not our Industry

On Wednesday Jonathan and I spoke with Anton from Alterna and they have graciously offered to welcome us on the days that we had planned (July 12 and 13). When we asked to make sure they would be willing to house us without any expected cost or donation (part of our trip is that we want to be entirely dependent on the hospitality of others) he said "hospitality is our ministry not our industry". This is the kind of places we're looking for! We had a wonderful conversation over the phone and were able to share a little about Bonhoeffer, the Epworth Project, and our summer trip with him and he shared a little bit about Alterna with us. From what I learned from that conversation and from reading about the community on their website I can tell that the Spirit is at work in full force there. They have many ministries but they all are working towards the purpose of "Christian missional living, welcoming the stranger and offering hospitality to Jesus who often visits (them) as an unauthorized immigrant from Latin America". I encourage you to check out their website and maybe even see how you might be able to help them and/or visit them.

Anton, his family, and the Alterna community practice radical hospitality and work towards rights for Latin immigrants. They do so through living in relation with immigrants, advocating for them in court cases, visiting those in prison, fighting to get those who are in prison out of prison, work towards changing unjust laws and passing just laws, training and teaching others, and much more but most importantly finding ways to do all of this in Christian Love. In any form of ministry it is important that you look at everyone as a brother and sister in Christ. Immigrants are not merely immigrants but they are humans and they our are brothers and sisters just as here at Bonhoeffer we make sure that "the homeless" are not merely "the homeless" but living breathing humans who are our brothers and sisters and it is out of privilege not obligation that we get to help them and in return they too help us.

Here is a video that shows a little about what they work towards.

We found out that the two days that Jonathan and I will be there are quite possibly the best 2 days that we could visit. It was not intentional but just seemed to work out. On the night we get there they will be having a community meal followed by a bible study and the next morning they will be having community prayer and scripture reading. Anton told us that Tuesday and Wednesday really are the 2 best days to see the community and the Spirit at work.

In addition to learning about their community and sharing about ours, Anton also put us in contact with  a few other places close to Alterna and close to Atlanta. One of the places we already plan on visiting, Mission Year, actually sends their married couples to Alterna as a joint project. Because of this, Anton gave us a few names to contact and now Jonathan and I have another phone conversation with Caz Tod on Tuesday Morning.

This trip is really falling into place and we are grateful for the hospitality each community is offering us. We can't wait to see what God has in store for this experience.



Tuesday, May 24, 2011

We Have Contact

Jonathan and I have made contact with our first location. We wanted to first contact the Rutba House since they are our turn-around point and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove is one of the leading voices in New Monasticism. I emailed them and Leah Wilson-Hartgrove got back with me to let me know that the inn is full but could possibly make some room for us in the manger (ok so it's in the dining room not the manger).

She also let us know that JWH will be getting in on Sunday evening so he will not be preaching Sunday mornings as we had hoped. He also usually takes is first day back to catch up with the kids and with house matters (as he should) and so our interactions with him and time to interview him will be limited. Throw in the fact the are helping a resident of Rutba with a wedding the following week and you get a house that as Leah says "may not be at their best 'hosting' capacity". She still, however, was willing to bring it up at their next house meeting next Monday and hopefully will be willing to let us stay and document a little of what they do there. If we are able to stay even in the midst of the craziness I think it will be a true reflection of their hospitality.

I will be contacting the other organizations we hope to visit today and will be sure to keep people updated. We will be meeting Thursday with a film maker who he himself will not be able to join us but is willing to give his advice and pass along the info to other film makers who may be interested.

I have already received great support by many people who have been giving us contacts. Keep the contacts and the prayers coming. We have faith that this will be a wonderful experience and it is slowly but surely falling into place.



Monday, May 16, 2011

Vision for this Summer

For the first time in a long time I have a summer entirely free. I began thinking of different things I could do and various places I could visit when I thought about visiting a New Monastic Community or two. I live in the Bonhoeffer House here in Dallas TX and so I am curious to see what other models of New Monasticism look like. The first two places that came to mind were the Rutba House and Simple Way. These communities are best known for their residents Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove and Shane Claiborne respectively. I thought about making a road trip up to Philly where Simple Way is and stopping in Durham to visit the Rutba House on the way. As I began to look at how long the trip was I also realized that there are numerous New Monastic Houses on the way to and from Philly and so I should try to stop at some of them as well. I called to share my idea with Dr. Elaine Heath, a professor of evangelism at Perkins and the driving force behind the Epworth Project. After talking with her I sat down with the other guys at Bonhoeffer to see if they would want to join me in this journey. Jonathan quickly hopped on board and George and Adam may be joining us for at least part of the trip.

We have played around with the dates and the locations numerous times but as of now we plan to leave July 10th and return on July 23rd. The places we hope to visit are Common Ground in Shreveport, LA, Alterna in LaGrange, GA, Koinonia Farms in Americus, GA, Area 15 in Charlotte, NC, Rutba House in Durham, NC, Mission Year in Atlanta, GA, and the Perkins Center in Jackson MS. We chose a rather diverse group of New Monastic Houses and communities in hopes to find new models but hopefully find a central theme of living intentionally with a foundation of Christ's love.

The next aspect of this trip that came to us was to document it. We are really excited about all that we will be learning and so we want to share the knowledge with others. This blog will serve as part of the documenting process but we also hope to make a documentary. This is where you can come in. None of us have any skills nor equipment in order to make this documentary a reality. If you or anyone you know makes films and can do so on a low budget then we would love you to have them contact us, or give us their contact info. We would also appreciate any other form of support such as: gas cards, recording equipment, editing equipment/skills, cash money, prayers, or just passing on the info by sharing this blog.