Friday, April 29, 2011

Urgent Prayers Needed for Detained Businessman in N. Korea

WASHINGTON — The family of an American held by North Korea on Wednesday pleaded for his freedom, saying that he was in uncertain health after five months detention and may not survive a trial.
Breaking its silence with an open letter to the communist regime, the family of the man it identified as Eddie Yong Su Jun said that it was "extremely concerned about his very sensitive health condition."
"Though we are aware that the DPRK has a judicial system different from that of the US, we strongly doubt that our father's health can withstand the stress of a trial or further detainment," the letter said, using the official name of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
"Eddie Jun is a devoted, loving husband and father and we are very anxious to be reunited with him. We appeal to you for compassion so that our father and husband can safely return home to his family," it said.
The family released the letter to CNN television. State Department officials confirmed the letter's authenticity.
"We reiterate our call on the DPRK to release the US citizen immediately on humanitarian grounds," a State Department spokesperson said.
North Korea said earlier this month that it would charge the American for crimes against the nation and that he admitted his crime.
A source in Seoul familiar with North Korean affairs said he was detained for missionary work.
The Korean-American, who attends a church in Orange County, California, traveled frequently to the North as a businessman but then served as a missionary, the source said.
It was the third apparent case in less than a year of a US Christian activist being detained in the North. Rights groups say Pyongyang severely restricts freedom of religion.
The family made the appeal as former US president Jimmy Carter was visiting North Korea, leading a group of elder statesmen who are seeking to ease longstanding tensions with the North. Carter helped free a previous detainee.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Preview: Black in Latin America

Preview: Black in Latin America

There is a special on tonight at 8 Pm pacific time on PBS about Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

If you have any interest at all in Haitian History and politics, this is a "must see."

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Haitian Politics: We Don't Have all The Answers, and Neither Do You

A Letter to the editor published in The Toronto Star (published 4/12/2011)

A mockery of justice in Haiti

Your editorial welcomes and endorses the result of the election of Michel Martelly in Haiti. But your editorial of Nov. 30, 2010 called the first round of this vote a “fraud” and said it should be scrapped in favour of a new and fair election. 
You had it right the first time. Less that 25 per cent of Haitians voted in the two rounds of this electoral exercise. It was organized so as to produce a desired result, namely that one or another right-wing candidate emerge victorious while the voice of sovereignty and social justice be excluded. 
A mockery of justice and democracy has been perpetrated in Haiti, courtesy of nearly $30 million of foreign funding of the exercise. Haiti now has a president with little legitimacy and with ties to Haiti’s Duvalierist past. 
You can bet that the democratic uprising in the Middle East is being closely studied in Haiti. Haitians will not be marginalized for long. 
Roger Annis, Vancouver
Mr. Annis maintains a blog called "The Toronto Haiti Action Committee" (

To be clear, I'm not sure its of any use for me to care much about who is or isn't voted into office. The over-all impression I get from friends is that Michael Martelly was the popular candidate by official and unofficial polls alike, but we all know how subject polls can be to manipulation.

The need is to great and the problems too complex for an outsider to do much. Wailing and railing over injustices, whether actual or imagined, will not fix the problems any more than throwing money at them will. We have a tendency, in North America, to think that we can solve just about any problem if we throw enough money at it or send third party "observers" to run the country for them.

That's pretty arrogant of us. I'm not picking on Mr. Annis, who seems rather well-informed with first hand experience. I'm just using his letter to the editor as an example of how little a layperson, casual social activist or newspaper reporter understands the Haitian plight. I'm also not giving him carte blanche editorial sovereignty or supporting his opinions with any findings of my own. What I do want to make clear is that when we decide that we have all the answers and rush in with our check-books ready, megaphones in hand, or guns blazing we almost inevitably mess things up.

I also would never even attempt to provide an answer to this in a single pithy statement or even a wordy blog. I just want to encourage you to continue to give and pray for Haiti, the NGO's, the Haitian Government, the UN figure heads and advisors and the missionaries over there right now. Material things are part of the solution, that is way we give. Political oversight and activism are part of the answer, that's why we get involved. Loving, caring and earnestly listening to them in a relational setting changes lives. This is why we send our missionaries, doctors, nurses, laborers, pastors and church groups over there. We continue to struggle against innumerable odds, feeling overwhelmed by what's at stake while the missionaries embedded there have been a source of hope for generations of Haitians. Missionaries are God's laborers, there to serve and love.

The missionaries aren't there to just give them the answers or make Haiti into a Carribean Island version of the US, but to show them that its not about making us look good, to patronize and exploit them, or to feel better about our own significance. We go and we send because they are our neighbors, created in God's image just like us. We are loving them because Jesus' first loved them. God began working over there long before the first missionaries or the 2010 earthquake. We are just continuing in the work He started, with humble hearts.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Future of My Medical Mission

Children in the rural Haitian village of Quicroix

I have these images in my mind. They might be more like embossed outlines or the faces of children. These children had such a light in their eyes that  their faces didn't reflect.  I love children. When children suffer my protector-healer instinct kicks-in in such a way that it seems almost primitive.

I have always had a passion for children, easing their pain, making them smile, comforting them. The eyes of a child absolutely melt me, whether they are my own or someone else's. Remarkably, this makes treating children, as a paramedic, easier. Not in the sense that I don't experience anxiety over it, but I have such compassion that I strive for absolute perfection, going above and beyond the education necessary for treating children in my profession. We have the option of having either Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) certification or Pediatric Assessment for Pre-hospital Professionals (PEPP) to maintain our licensure in  my county... I have both.

I have been to pediatric trauma symposiums, seminars and continuing education courses. Now, I have the basics down. The out of hospital emergency treatment of children I feel very confident about. It is time for me to move on. My wife and I were talking about this and my current career direction. 

I've been reconsidering some of my career goals and re-evaluating whether or not I am actually taking roads that will lead me toward my ultimate goal of full-time medical ministry. I've had a lot of input from other missionaries on this as well. I've researched mission boards and organizations. I've browsed through the listings and requests from overseas missions. 

One thing that I keep on seeing is a request for nurses, particularly nurses with pediatric experience. Okay, I'm no nurse, but I could be. I've got the education and experience to make me very competitive in the field. getting into nursing school is definitely a hurdle, but after spending the last few years chasing after the Physician Assistant education it seems that I may be heading in the right direction, but just on the wrong road to get there.

Nursing education is much less expensive and it seems in much more demand internationally for mission staff. THe only problem is that, until the last couple of months, going to nursing school turned my stomach. I see the nurses in the ER's that I frequent and how overwhelmingly over-worked they are. They put even the busiest paramedic unit to shame in shear patient contact hours and workload. I really didn't want to be a nurse.

That was then. 

I have several letters of recommendation from physicians that I've worked with and know personally for PA school, but somehow, now that I'm qualified and possibly even a viable candidate for the program, something that once seemed so impossible and far away, it seems that my sites should be set on nursing, as strange as it sounds. Both school are about equal in length but nursing education suddenly seems less intimidating to me, like it would be a better fit.

My wife tells me that she thinks the ideal occupation for me, aside from missions, would be as a pediatric nurse. This was a totally unsolicited comment from her. Another friend of mine and someone whose opinion I greatly respect mentioned to me this morning that my skills, my passions, my talents and my circumstances all seem to be pointing in the same direction.

The Baptist Haiti Mission and IHM need a full-time staff nurse to work on the compound as a clinical liason. I heard about this a few days before I left Haiti last November. Ever since hearing about this position, I don't think I've gone a day without thinking about it.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Challenges in Haiti remain "daunting": UN chief

There is still so much to do in Haiti but hope remains. A new popular president, continued international aid and charitable donors make a more prosperous nation sound like a possibility. One of the best ways to help rebuild Haiti is by donating directly to the NGO's that are dug-in there, you can make sure that your donations are going to count.

More importantly, remember to pray for Haiti daily.

The following article is the most recent UN update on the state of the nation of Haiti:

UNITED NATIONS, April 6 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-general Ban Ki- moon said here on Wednesday that despite efforts to rehabilitate Haiti after a massive January 2010 earthquake, there is still much work to be done in the small Caribbean country.

"While important progress has indeed been achieved, Haiti continues to face daunting challenges," he said.

Ban's statements came at an open Security Council high-level debate on Haiti. The island country has been struggling to rebuild and recover from the devastating earthquake, which struck with an epicenter near the capital Port-au-Prince, killing more than 230, 000 and destroying buildings and infrastructure. The earthquake was followed by a cholera outbreak and violence surrounding presidential and legislative elections.

"Recovery and reconstruction are slowly gathering momentum," Ban said. "More than 20 percent of the estimated 10 million cubic meters of rubble have been removed. The number of earthquake- affected people living in camps has decreased from more than 1.5 million in July of last year to 680,000 today. Unfortunately, some of this reduction has not been entirely voluntary, and many camp dwellers are at risk of forced evictions."

The secretary-general said that despite some recovery progress, Haiti's economy remains "on its knees."

"Public institutions are barely able to deliver essential services," he said. "Millions of Haitians remain dependent on the assistance of non-governmental organizations to meet their most basic needs."

Although the cholera epidemic that caused thousands of deaths in Haiti beginning in October 2010 appears to have stabilized, Ban told the Council that large-scale investments in Haiti's water and sanitation system as well as a consistent presence of humanitarian agencies in camps and treatment centers are needed to prevent another outbreak.
Child-size coffins made in the carpenters shop at the Baptist Haiti Mission in Fermathe. I saw more of these than I care to count carried away one-by-one by Haitian employees on the mission in my short time there.

He said that more funding is needed in the effort for Haiti.

"The Cholera Appeal is 45 percent funded, and the overall Haiti Appeal received only 10 percent of the requested funds," he said. "Additional financial support is urgently needed."

On April 4, Haiti's Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) confirmed Michel Martelly as the victor of the country's presidential run-off election. Ban said that the new president should make better establishing rule of law in the country a top priority, or else "peace and prosperity will remain elusive."

"Haiti's judicial system is deeply dysfunctional," he said. " Its prisons remain dangerously overcrowded. Property records are unreliable and non-existent. Public expenditures often lack transparency."

He explained that these factors have drained confidence in the Haitian state from both investors and Haitians themselves.

Ban concluded his statement by emphasizing the UN's intention to continue its support for Haiti.

"The United Nations will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with the Haitian government and people in the noble and necessary work of building a more just and prosperous future," he said.

Editor: yan

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A Global Perspective (Part 2)

As Christians we have a responsibility to speak for those whose rights have been taken from them. We have a responsibility to fight for the defenseless and pray for our brother's and sisters in captivity. Slavery is an issue all over the world, even in our own home towns.

Its a crime that we would all like to think could never exist in our more enlightened "Global Community" but it does exist. And its prolific.

There are numerous organizations like Catholic Relief Services maintains an informative website that details the root causes of human trafficking and who it effects.

In an effort to keep a finger on the global pulse, this is a subject that simply cannot be forgotten. Sudan has had a significant amount of press in the last 5 or 6 years, but the problems in Sudan go back much further.

After a peace agreement was signed in 1972 ending a decade of civil war, the South Sudanese Christian minority found that the issues were not addressed and in 1983, it started all over again. Another civil war, this time lasting more than 20 years devastated the communities in both the North and the South. In late January, there was a vote held in Sudan that would separate the north and south into two distinct nation states hopefully bringing an end to the "jihad" and civil wars that have been central to the lives of the nationals for generations.

As a result of these years and years of relentless violence, many of our Christian brothers and sisters in the South were taken into slavery in the North. Christian Solidarity International (CSI) lists some of the  human rights violation at the hands of the Northern Sudanese slave masters: repeated rape, mock executions, forced religious conversions, stabbings, cuttings, genital mutilations, beatings, and forced, unpaid labor.

CSI has successfully freed and returned several of these slaves to Southern Sudan in months, but there are an estimated thirty-five thousand more, including women and children suffering at the hands of these slave masters.

Remember the Sudanese and persecuted Christians and enslaved peoples of all faiths in your prayers. 

**Update Haitian Human Trafficking Ring Busted in D.R.**

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Boy Colonel, Jerome Davis: Great Man of Faith and Valor

A short article on a man whose life may have otherwise been too soon forgotten.

From the Courier-News
Known to his friends back in the Dundees as “the boy colonel,” Jerome Davis enlisted on the outbreak of the Civil War as a private in the 52nd Illinois Volunteers regiment. During the Battle of Shiloh, where the regiment lost 170 out of 500 men, he won a battlefield commission as a second lieutenant.
 While bearing the regimental colors, Davis received a severe wound in the thigh. Comrades gave him as much crude first aid as they could, but he lost consciousness and was left on the field for dead. Later he was moved to a steamship, where he lay on the deck for two days before his wound was properly dressed. But he recovered and during the Atlanta campaign and the March to the Sea, he progressed through the ranks until reaching the rank of colonel at age 26. As a “boy colonel,” he led the 52nd in the Grand Review that celebrated Union victory at Washington on May 24, 1865. 
After the war, Davis graduated from Beloit College and entered Chicago Theological Seminary. After graduating from the seminary in 1869, he and his wife, Sophia Strong, moved to Cheyenne, Wyo., where they took on the work of “pioneer missionaries.” Two years later they sailed to Japan, being only the third family to enter that land as missionaries under the American flag.
 Col./Rev. Davis spent almost 40 years of his life in Japan, where he died Nov. 4, 1910.
— Courtesy Dundee Township Historical Society

Saturday, April 2, 2011

A Global Perspective (Part I)

As we consider international missions and "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost", we must also consider the impact of this on our own daily actions and priorities. A great place to start is by praying for other nations and peoples. Remembering that our true citizenship is in heaven, we must shed our jingoistic opinions and re-shape our approaches away from xenophobic tendencies toward other countries and cultures realizing that we are all sinners and we all need the salvation that comes from faith in Jesus Christ and, ultimately, His death and resurrection. There are no exceptions to this and no one person needing this salvation more than another one. With that being said, to my knowledge, the Bible has no evidence of God preferring Americans, Anglo-Saxons, Ethiopians, Europeans or those from Tazmania. It has been over 2000 years since the news got out that the door was open for Jews and Gentiles alike to follow and become disciples of Jesus. 

Today, my attention was drawn to a little publicized civil war in the Ivory Coast (also known by its Colonial French name of  COTE D'IVOIRE).

A headline reads Hundreds Killed in Ivory Coast Massacre.  The article is a horrific account of what is happening int hat country. It seems as if Laurent Gbagbo, is to blame since after losing the election to Alassane Ouattara, he is no longer the recognized president of the nation (Mr. Ouattara is recognized by the African Union as being the formal victor in the free elections).

Gbagbo is being blamed for the majority if not all of the civilian deaths in the resulting uprisings. Gbagbo is willing to take his country down with him as the entire nation has gone into a tailspin of violence and economic collapse.

As civilians take refuge in a Catholic mission, many more face the day to day struggle to just survive. Missions are very important in nations like this and the stalwart and self-less perseverance of mission staff can be a matter of life and death, in addition to eternal life and eternal condemnation.

In a nation of about 21 million where the median age is only 19 years the religious break down is Muslim 38.6%, Christian 32.8%, indigenous 11.9%, none 16.7%. So you can probably see just based on this where some of the divisional boundaries lie among the people.

Please pray that peace comes to the nation. That God moves in the hearts of the citizens to come to amicable conclusions as to who should run the country, that cooler heads prevail and that God enables missionaries on the ground and missionaries not yet there safety that they may glorify Him and touch the souls of the corrupt and well-meaning alike that they should come to believe in Jesus Christ as their Lord and savior.