Thursday, November 13, 2008

Thanksgiving Prayer

Thanksgiving is on its wouldn't know it based on all of the Christmas commercials already on t.v. Too soon? I think so. Anyway, my wife found this Latin American prayer in last month's Real Simple magazine, and I think it's a fantastic prayer to be recited around our Thanksgiving tables when we gather with family and friends in a few weeks:

To those who hunger, give bread;

to those who have bread,
give a hunger for justice.

I created a desktop wallpaper based on this prayer. See it at just wallpaper.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Soles 4 Souls

The 50,000 Pairs in 50 Days Challenge

Soles 4 Soles' goal is simple – to use social media (blogging, other social network tools) to raise awareness and have 50,000 pairs of shoes donated in 50 days. For just $5, you can donate two pairs of shoes to people who are hurting around the world.

What a great way to live out Matthew 25:35-36: "For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me."

To keep up with this great cause, you can check out S4S' blog here.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Dangerous Benediction

Craig Groeschel shared this benediction at the Willow Creek Leadership Summit this past summer. I think it was originally a Franciscan benediction:

May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within your heart.

May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.

May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, and war, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain in to joy.

And may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Being Nice Freaks People Out

by Curtis

Why do acts of kindness freak people out? Why is it that people think they're getting Punk'd when a stranger offers to help them?

Watch this video from This guy offers to pay for gas for total strangers. Their reactions are hilarious. What a great idea. My favorite part is that there were no strings attached; the guy buying the gas didn't say, "Oh, and by the way, here's a tract that proves that dinosaurs were on the Ark...all Bible references KJV".

No. He didn't pull the bait and switch. His only instructions are, "Pay it forward. Do something nice for somebody else."

If this video compels you to commit some random acts of kindness, here are a few ideas of things to do:

--Offer to help an elderly person with their groceries in the Wal-Mart parking lot
--At the drive thru, pay for the person's order behind you
--Go buy some inexpensive flowers. Walk around and hand them out in a busy public place.

These are just the first few ideas that I could think of. What random acts of kindness do you like to do? Leave a comment with your favorites.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Review: Same Kind of Different as Me

by Curtis

I honestly thought it would take me a week or two to finish Same Kind of Different as Me, but I just couldn't put it down.

Last night around 2:00a.m., I finished reading this true story of two men's unlikely friendship. Ron Hall, one of the authors of this book, is a high-end art dealer in Fort Worth, Texas. Denver Moore, who also authored the story, is a rough and tumble homeless man. Making friends is the last thing he wants, especially with some rich white guy. These guys end up meeting each other and a strange and exciting friendship begins. You really won't believe it unless you read it yourself.

I picked up Same Kind of Different as Me on recommendation from several people who have great tastes in books. S.K.O.D.A.M. is a story of injustice, hope, suffering, and trust that will hook you from the first few pages. Each brief segment of the story is narrated by Ron or Denver, each in his own voice. These two come to realize how the rich and poor need each other and that everyone has value. After all, aren't we all made in the image of God?

At the risk of sounding like James Lipton, host of Inside the Actors' Studio, I'll keep my praise brief and to the point: this book is phenomenal. If you are interested in issues related to social justice or if you just like a heartwarming true story to read over the weekend, go out and buy this book immediately. I promise as soon as you read it, you'll be recommending it to someone else.

***Important Note: When you read this book, DO NOT--DO NOT--DO NOT--look at the pictures in the middle section of the book until you have finished the entire book...they will ruin the ending if you look at them before you're done. Thanks, Aaron for giving me the heads up.***

Saturday, October 4, 2008


by Barry

If you spend time at Grace Community Church (where Curtis and I attend), you're bound to hear an odd expression thrown around a lot. We talk often about people getting "wrecked." And the weird thing is that we talk about it like it's a good thing.

Why would we want to "wreck" people? Doesn't that seem kind of... well, mean?

Yes, I suppose it does a little. :) But let me explain where this phrase comes from...

In the suburbs, we are constantly bombarded with the idea that the world is about ME! Advertisements, malls, television... even our restaurants and coffee shops. They all feed us this message: "I deserve to have things my way! It's my right!"

And as a result, we all start to believe it. "You know? I do deserve that new TV. It's my right to have an uninterrupted internet connection." Over time, we become little "me-machines," and the outside world gets dimmer and dimmer.

Being "wrecked," however, changes all that. When someone gets "wrecked," the outside world comes into sharp focus. Seeing things like poverty or hunger or injustice messes you up. It wrecks you. Sitting in the home of a slum-dweller, hearing the story of a homeless man, getting a hug from an AIDS orphan... These are all "wrecking-ball" experiences.

Once you've had one, it's impossible to think that the world is all about you. Because it's obviously not.

After being wrecked, the suburbs start to seem a little unreal. Old pleasures don't have the same allure. Getting more "stuff" seems a little pointless. After being wrecked, true fulfillment can only come from pursuing God's dreams for the world... by acting justly, loving mercy and walking humbly with God (Micah 6:8).

So, at GCC, we "wreck" people, and constantly look for ways to get even more wrecked ourselves.

Because until we get wrecked, we can never change the world...

Friday, October 3, 2008

World On Fire

by Curtis

Many of you have seen Sarah McLachlan's music video for her song "World on Fire", and it gets me every time. If you haven't seen it, watch the video above.

What gets me about this video is how much of the stuff we buy and pay for is completely unnecessary. When you look at your monthly budget, how much of it goes towards things that are superfluous? How much of it goes to help other people?

I don't bring up those questions to guilt anyone, but I think we can all live our lives with fewer things. Barry's most recent post really got me thinking about how much I waste compared to how much I give back. I believe we can live our lives more simply in order to free up resources so we can help others--not to hoard and keep for ourselves.

So think about it. What can be cut from your monthly spending? Do you have a $50/month line-item for Starbucks? Maybe it's time to reconsider a few non-essentials.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

What's your footprint?

by Barry

Think for a moment. If every single person on the earth lived the way you did, what would the earth look like? Would it be possible? Imagine if everyone in the world ate as much as you, drove as much as you and threw away as much as you. Yikes!

If you're like me, that isn't exactly a comforting thought. I know for a fact that my lifestyle isn't sustainable. At least, not when put in those terms!

And now I've found an online quiz which quantifies just how many earths it would take if everyone lived the way I live (and does a great job of making me feel lousy about it!). But it's really worth it. Head over to and check it out for yourself!

According to this short, 5 minute quiz (which is, I admit, a little simplistic), it would take 4.4 earths to sustain the entire human population living the way I do! 4.4!!!

So what does this have to do with social justice? Well, lots actually. You see, even if I don't actually see the poor and marginalized of this world, a lifestyle like mine is sure to influence them somehow. Because the truth is, we're all connected.

Well great. Now I feel all cruddy about the way I live. *sigh* Maybe it's time for me to go and do something about it...

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Review: The Twenty-Piece Shuffle: Why the Poor and Rich Need Each Other, by Greg Paul

by Curtis

If you haven't heard about Greg Paul yet, maybe now's the time to go to Amazon and buy his books.

Paul's first book, God in the Alley: Being and Seeing Jesus in a Broken World, was published a few years ago and completely wrecked a good way. In it, he shares some heart-wrenching stories about his community in inner city Toronto. Paul is an author/pastor/local rock star who started a ministry called Sanctuary that reaches out to homeless (they prefer "under-housed") and fully housed people under the same roof. He started the community center/church hybrid out of a rock band called Red Rain.

I am fortunate enough to have visited Sanctuary first hand back in February with my fellow justice-seeker, Barry, and some other friends from our church. We got to spend some time walking the cold winter streets of Toronto and seeing how God can work miraculously in seemingly hopeless situations. The stories shared by Greg and members of Sanctuary's community are humbling (an understatement).

In his latest effort, The Twenty Piece Shuffle: Why the Rich and the Poor Need Each Other, Paul transparently shares the incredible stories of Sanctuary ministries and applies them to the fact that everyone--rich and poor alike--needs intimate relationships and a strong sense of purpose and identity in life. These stories are heartbreaking and often troubling, and I'm so glad Paul shared them with us. This book will change your perspective on rich and poor and how God fits into all the suffering in the mess of the world.

If you haven't read either of Paul's offerings yet, I would start with God in the Alley. It's kind of like the intro-level course to Twenty Piece Shuffle.

These books are a great way to engage your heart and your mind in the causes of justice for the poor.

Heifer International

by Barry

When I think of cows, I picture huge animals penned up in some stockyard somewhere, waiting around to become a big-mac. I picture rustic cowboys bringing a herd home from pasture. And now, after being in India for 3 months, I picture traffic jams.

But one thing I don't picture is wealth. Cows don't evoke images of prosperity in my mind. But for more than 2 billion people around the world, that is exactly what cows represent. Riches, security, and abundance...

Cows provide nourishing milk and plentiful meat. They give birth to more cows, and can quickly become a herd. In the developing world, once you own a cow, you're set for life.

But who can afford a cow? Making 2 dollars a day, it would take years to save up enough to buy one. And so for most poor people around the world, owning a cow or goat or even a chicken, becomes an impossible dream.

That's why there is an organization called Heifer International. They take sustainability-creating livestock, and give them to people around the world who need them. And the cool part is, these recipients must agree to give the first calf or chick or kid to someone else who needs it, spreading sustainability from one family to another!

And you can be a part of this process! There is a whole online gift catalog that allows you to purchase everything from heifers to chicks to honeybees for a needy family around the world. It couldn't be easier to make a difference in someone's life.

And what an awesome gift idea! "Honey, I bought you a cow." Perfect!

So check it out, and who knows? Maybe you'll start to see cows just a little bit differently...

Friday, September 26, 2008

Food Rescue

by Barry

Have you ever wondered what happens to all that bread at Panera at the end of the day? I mean, they have quality standards to live up to, right? The answer is, they throw it away. Thousands and thousands of pounds of bread. In the trash.

Of course, if you're like me, you hear that and think "Gee. I sure wish someone would do something about that. Especially with so many hungry people in my city!"

Well someone is doing something about it. Lots of someones actually.

The organization is called Food Rescue. Way back in 2007, a man named John Williamson in Noblesville, IN started collecting leftover bread with his family, and driving it over to a local food pantry. He had no idea what this was going to turn into!

In less than two years, his organization has grown into 20 separate chapters that coordinate almost 600 volunteers nation wide!
Why has it become such a huge success? Well, let me tell you.
A) It just makes sense! Why throw away bread when you can give it to someone who is hungry?
B) It is super easy to make a huge difference. Volunteers around the country giving just 90 minutes of their time once a week have "rescued" literally millions of dollars worth of bread!
Need I say more?

If you're interested in getting involved, check out Food Rescue's list of chapters. If there isn't one in your area, maybe you could start one! It's all there on the page.

Darn. And I thought helping to feed the poor was difficult! Now I don't have any excuse... :)

Everything Small

by Barry

Here's a trustworthy saying: If you live in a Malawian village for an entire summer, taking bucket baths and hiking miles through the bush each day, you're probably going to come back a little changed.

Well, that's exactly what happened with my good friend Maeven Mendoza. She lived for two months in Malawi, and she has definitely come back a different person!

And get this... Maeven has decided to share her journey with us!

On her blog Everything Small, Maeven writes about the joys, struggles and memories she is living with as she re-enters American culture.

One recent post is about her new perspective on intelligence and another is about her recent dilemma of wanting to buy a $6 shirt. Beautiful stories, thought-provoking narratives, and a refreshing level of honesty.

And the best part of all is that Maeven's a really good writer!!!

Hey. What are you still doing looking at this boring blog? Check it out!

by Barry

Do you ever get frustrated at how huge problems like poverty are? You read stats like 1 billion people live below a dollar a day and 2 billion people on less than 2 dollars a day. A billion people? I can't even imagine what a million people looks like.

These women in Mumbai, India earn pennies to cut this grass by hand.

Or you visit a third world country and see it for yourself. Row after row of corrugated metal shacks, destitute people lying on the streets, entire orphanages filled with AIDS orphans. It's too much to handle.

We'd love to help out... to give our money to the problem. But it's just too big!

So we give nothing.

Well, for the last year or so, I've been contributing to an amazing website that seeks to change all of that: Kiva is a not-for-profit micro-loan company that allows you to loan money directly to a person who needs it.

When you make a loan to someone, you see their picture and read their bio. You see exactly what they need the money for. You're not sending $25 to some multi-national "global poverty initiative." You're sending $25 (or more) to Betty Kagwa, a Ugandan woman who runs a general store. Or to Hoeun Korng, who sells cows in Cambodia. You get the picture.

And the best part of all is that it's a loan. Kiva has had, get this, a 98.6% successful repayment rate! And when you get the money back, you can instantly re-loan it to another entrepreneur or withdraw it and use it for something else. It's easy.

So, stop being so overwhelmed... Check out Kiva and get into the game!

Thursday, September 25, 2008


Hello and welcome to Brave Not Safe! This is a blog of awesome stuff designed to get you off the couch and into the world!

Because of our chosen "professions," the two of us often come across fantastic websites, blogs, books, movies, and organizations focused on social justice and the kingdom of God, but rarely get the chance to tell anyone. Now, however, we can share them with everyone!

We will be regularly posting the stuff we find for you to check out for yourself. There are several ways to stay updated:
We would love suggestions, thoughts or stuff that you find as well. No guarantees that we'll post your submissions, but we'll do our best! If you want to send us something, write to bravenotsafe(at)