Action in Action Alert: Help Nepal!

Dear Friends, By now you’ve likely been not only seen, but also been rather overwhelmed by, the images of the devastation caused by the earthquake in Nepal. The toll it has taken on the population – with more than 5000 confirmed dead – as well as on the infrastructure of the country is immense. But while such images are overwhelming, they do not have to be paralyzing. We – each of us – can make a difference. I am once again so grateful for my association with Lutheran World Relief, an experienced, extremely competent, and committed relief agency that is reliably at the forefront of the humanitarian and Christian response to such...

Easter Chocolate with a Purpose

One of my favorite Easter memories from childhood is hunting down our Easter baskets and then devouring the chocolate within them. Actually, I have no single memory of that, more like a montage made up of many, many such memories. Guessing that I’m not alone in having such memories, and knowing that many of us will be shopping in the next couple of weeks in preparation for Easter festivities, I wanted to suggest that this year you consider purchasing your Easter treats from Divine Chocolate. Divine Chocolate is produced from the cocoa beans from the Kuapa Kokoo (“Good Cocoa Farmers Company” in the local Twi language) cooperative, a...

Why I Only Buy Fair-Trade Chocolate

With six hours of travel and another inspiriting site visit, yesterday was too busy to post. Unbelievably bumpy roads, suspension bridges, incredibly gracious hosts, insight into the lives of the people that produce the cocoa beans from which comes the chocolate that so many of us love, and more all filled the day to overflowing. The cooperative we visited consisted of more than 65 small farms (often of about two or three acres each) and growing. It takes 25 farms to come together to form a co-operative, and often many co-operatives are drawn together to form a second-tier, or national co-operative in order to most effectively partner...

LWR Is Changing the World in Honduras

I’m in Honduras this week for a Board Meeting of Lutheran World Relief. Most of our Board Meetings, I should probably say, are not in Honduras, but in Baltimore, Maryland, the headquarters of LWR. But every three years, the staff plans a Board Meeting and retreat at one of the sites where LWR is doing work so that the Board can gain a more three-dimensional sense of the importance and challenges of this work. After two full days of meetings and reports and strategic planning and all the rest, today we went to visit one of the project sites where LWR staff and their Honduran partners are working to help those Jesus refers to as “the...

Christmas in the Philippines

What kind of Christmas do you think it will be in the Philippines this year? In cities like Tacloban that were so devastated by typhoon Haiyan? It always amazes me just how strong is our initial gut reaction to places like Tacloban as our hearts go out to the folks affected by natural disaster, and we’re eager to help, and the news is dominated by stories of those affected…and then how quickly the news cycle fades and our attention shifts. Haiyan hit one month ago, and already we only hear bits and pieces of the story of the folks who are still – will be still for years to come – struggling to reclaim their lives and rebuild their...

The Advent Conspiracy

Okay, so yesterday we talked about Advent and its invitation to slow down, to ponder the significance of what God has done (and is still doing!) through Jesus, and in this way to prepare our hearts to celebrate not just the birth of a beautiful child but the incarnation of God in Jesus as Emanuel, God with us. I’m guessing that most readers of this blog already know a fair amount about Advent, and that the post was more of a reminder and invitation than an introduction. But do you know about the Advent Conspiracy? Actually, I’m guessing that many of you do. But for those who don’t: The Advent Conspiracy is a world-wide movement to help...