From the Blog

Justice: the quality of being just; righteousness, equitableness, or moral rightness
Social: of or pertaining to the life, welfare, and relations of human beings in a community
I will not deny that justice is the responsibility of all institutions in a society (families, churches, corporations). However, I believe people of faith have a special responsibility to share the prophetic voice of Jesus and the Hebrew prophets, one of whom spoke against “those who oppress the innocent and take bribes and deprive the poor of justice in the court … ” (The prophet Amos)

So I’m proud to support “righteousness, equitableness, [and] moral rightness” “pertaining to the life, welfare, and relations of human beings in a community.”

I’m also proud of my friend Michael Hidalgo who wrote a balanced, beautiful response to some unfortunate words spoken this week by Glenn Beck

A Pastor’s Response to Glenn Beck’s Call to Leave ‘Social Justice’ Churches – Michael Hidalgo – God’s Politics Blog.

One resounding lesson from this experience is something built into the DNA of The 1010 Project: it is more important to have the right questions than the right answers.

Exempla Gratis (E.G.)

Over the week I’ve spoken with two Kenyans possessing 30 years of development experience between them. One of the first partners I visited was Pastor Brown and his wife Josephine, founders of Fair Oaks Academy and leaders of Redeemed Gospel Church. I also joined Michael Nyangi of LOMORO in visiting the small businesses started with capital he lent, and discussing the role of The 1010 Project.

I asked them each some form of this question: “How can The 1010 Project improve our partnership with social entrepreneurs in Kenya.” The answers I received were remarkably consistent. Chiefly, that partners have access to business training, and create solid business plans for their ventures.

My former business coach Chuck Blakeman explained this principle to several Nairobian women. Business is like water; you simply need to know where you are and where you are going. Michael Nyangi pointed out that many social entrepreneurs have not received any kind of business training, and some very little education at all. Having access to training and building a business plan first both defines sucess and increases the likelihood of reaching it.

This confirmed and clarified for me my belief that in any culture, three things are needed for the success of a social entrepreneur

  • Skill: this could be a private sector skill like jewelry making, or a social sector skill like building an orphanage
  • Capital: access to startup funds either from one’s own means, or an outside source; e.g. small grants from The 1010 Project
  • Training: acquiring basic competence in fundamental business practices like marketing and accounting

Questions are Primary

As you can see above, the end result was an “answer:” business training being essential to fostering social entrepreneurship. Discovering answers to the challenges of poverty is both noble and essential, but questions must always be primary. In other words, it is impossible to answer a question for someone that has never been asked of them.


This story is about someone you’ve heard of…

In a supermarket, Kurtis the stock boy, was busily working when a new voice
came over the loud speaker asking for a carry out at register 4.  Kurtis was
almost finished, and wanted to get some fresh air, and decided to answer the
call. As he approached the check-out stand a distant smile caught his eye, the
new check-out girl was beautiful. She was an older woman (maybe 26, and he
was only 22) and he fell in love.

Later that day, after his shift was over, he waited by the punch clock to find
out her name. She came into the break room, smiled  softly at him, took her card
and punched out, then left.  He looked at her card, BRENDA.  He walked out only to
see her start walking up the road.  Next day, he waited outside as she left the supermarket,
and offered her a ride home. He looked harmless enough, and she accepted. When he
dropped her off, he asked if maybe he could see her again, outside of work.  She simply
said it wasn’t possible.  He pressed and she explained she had two children and she couldn’t afford a
baby-sitter, so he offered to pay for the baby-sitter  Reluctantly she accepted
his offer for a date for the following Saturday.  That Saturday night he arrived
at her door only to have her tell him that she was unable to go with him. The
baby-sitter had called and canceled. To which Kurtis simply said, “Well,
let’s take the kids with us.”

She tried to explain that taking the children was not an option, but again not
taking no for an answer, he pressed.  Finally Brenda, brought him inside to meet
her children.  She had an older daughter who was just as cute as a bug, Kurtis
thought, then Brenda brought out her son, in a wheelchair.  He was born a
paraplegic with Down Syndrome.

Kurtis asked Brenda, “I still don’t understand why the kids can’t
come with us?”  Brenda was amazed. Most men would run away from a woman
with two kids, especially if one had disabilities – just like her first husband
and father of her children had done.  Kurtis was not ordinary – - – he had a
different mindset.

That evening Kurtis and Brenda loaded up the kids, went to dinner and the
movies. When her son needed anything Kurtis would take care of him.  When he
needed to use the restroom, he picked him up out of his wheelchair, took him and
brought him back.  The kids loved Kurtis.  At the end of the evening, Brenda
knew this was the man she was going to marry and spend the rest of her life
with.  A year later, they were married and Kurtis adopted both of her children.
Since then they have added two more kids.

So what happened to Kurtis the stock boy and Brenda the check-out girl?  Well,
Mr. & Mrs. Kurt Warner now live in Arizona , where he is currently employed
as the quarterback of the National Football League Arizona Cardinals and has his
Cardinals in the hunt for a possible appearance in the Super Bowl.  Is this a
surprise ending or could you have guessed that he was not an ordinary person.

It should be noted that he also quarterbacked the Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI.
He has also been the NLF’s Most Valuable Player twice and the Super Bowl’s Most Valuable Player.


Today at church our minister mentioned that when Kurt, his wife and 7 children go out to eat he
has one of his children pick out a family eating at the restaurant. Kurt then tells the wait staff he is
picking up the tab for that family’s dinner anonymously. He remembers the days he was working nights
in the grocery store and feeding his family on food stamps.

This time for a church retreat for our simple church network, Ancient
Paths Church Network

From a 10 mo old African American baby to a 65 year old Native
American woman, with yuppie Caucasians like me in between, it was a
celebration of the unity from diversity in God’s family

A powerful take on a more holistic approach to a culture of life.

Begin forwarded message:

From: “Sojourners” <>
Date: October 13, 2008 9:10:35 AM MDT

Dear Brian,

Tell the Candidates:
Commit to common-ground solutions on abortion reduction. 

What is the meaning of “life”?
For too long abortion was seen as the only “life” issue in our culture and politics, but there is a growing conviction among Christians that poverty, disease, war, the health-care crisis, human trafficking, the death penalty, nuclear weapons, and the worldwide deaths of 30,000 children every day from preventable causes are also key life issues.
In these last few weeks before Election Day, will you join me in raising a new call for “life” to our presidential candidates? 

Sojourners and I have advocated for a holistic and “consistent ethic of life” approach for years, and it is good to see the broader life issues receiving more attention. However, I also believe our nation is ready for a new kind of politics and leadership on the issue of abortion.

The abortion debate has too often been used to score political points, rather than to identify what kinds of church practices and public policies could actually prevent and reduce abortions. But with a tragic 1.2 million abortions a year in the United States,* Christians must work together to stop the politics of blame and work toward common solutions.

If you believe that all human life is sacred, tell the candidates to commit to common-ground solutions on abortion reduction during this week’s debate and for the remainder of their campaigns.

While many Christians disagree on the legal questions surrounding abortion, together we can and must pursue practical steps that actually reduce abortion rates. Three-fourths of women who have an abortion say a primary reason is that they cannot afford to raise a child,* so reducing poverty and supporting low-income women is a good place for our candidates to start.

Recent research affirms that social and economic support for women and vulnerable families are effective solutions to lowering the abortion rate, including greater access to health care, poverty reduction, adoption reform, and pre- and postnatal care.**

Republicans and Democrats must learn to work together on this issue – tell the presidential candidates to lead the way, beginning at this Wednesday’s debate.  We must look forward to the day when both poverty reduction and abortion reduction are nonpartisan issues and bipartisan causes.
Both Senators McCain and Obama have offered themselves as agents of change, anxious to transform the culture in Washington. They could start at Wednesday night’s debate by offering a comprehensive “life” agenda and committing to work with both sides of the political aisle to dramatically reduce abortions in the United States.
Despite their differences over issues of choice, both the Democratic and Republican platforms open up the prospects for serious abortion reduction. And Christians could and should hold both political parties accountable for protecting human dignity and life from “womb to tomb.”
With the final debate Wednesday night, there is still time to ask the candidates to cross old divisions and support life and human dignity.
Sojourners will continue working with both Republicans and Democrats in the next Congress to push for common-ground efforts to reduce the number of abortions in the United States.
Will you join us? Click here to take action today.
In faith,
Jim Wallis
President, Sojourners
P.S. Supporting a consistent life agenda could be led by the church! We strongly urge you to send this message to your friends and family after you e-mail the candidates, especially those who might have different opinions. See if you can agree on expanding the consistency of all the “life” issues, with a real commitment to reducing the number of abortions through common-ground solutions.

*See “Facts on Induced Abortion in the United States” published by the Guttmacher Institute.

**See, for example, “Reducing Abortion in America: The Effect of Economic and Social Supports,” a new study put forward by Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good. 

Visit the web address below to tell your friends about this. 

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Yesterday, a group of simple church leaders met to discuss what God is
doing in Denver.

At the end we had a time of prayer about Denver. We weren’t really
focusing on any one person, just for God’s healing and transformation
for Denver.

A friend who I had not spoken with for a month was moved to pray
specifically for me, and named 2 emotions I’ve been deeply struggling
with, and prayed for God’s healing for me. He also spoke several words
directly to my heart about what my family is going through.

Thank you Lord that out of 6 billion people you had a word just for
me. I needed to hear that.

Brian Rants

Here is one of my favorite quotes, first shared with me by Tim Pynes
> "Jesus is asked 183 questions directly in the four Gospels. He only
> answered three of them forthrightly. The others he either ignored,
> kept silent about, asked a question in return, changed the subject,
> told a story or gave an audio/visual aid to make his point, told
> them it was the wrong question, revealed their insincerity or
> hypocrisy, made the exactly opposite point, or redirected the
> question elsewhere!
> Check it out for yourself. He himself asks 307 questions, which
> would seem to set a pattern for imitation. Considering this, it is
> really rather amazing that the church became an official answering
> machine and a very self-assured program for 'sin management'.
> Many, if not most, of Jesus' teaching would never pass contemporary
> orthodoxy tests in either the Roman Office or the Southern Baptist
> Convention. Most of his statements are so open to misinterpretation
> that should he teach today, he would probably be called a
> 'relativist' in almost all areas except one: his insistence upon the
> goodness and reliability of God. That was his only consistent
> absolute."
> Richard Rohr