Tag Archives: Haiti

A Sure Way to Offer Help to Haiti

For those of you visiting my blog, I want to thank you for checking it out. I also invite you to leave your thoughts and comments anywhere you like. I strive to keep my posts thoughtful, sincere, and as authentic as I possibly can. I find that when people think and write that way, they leave the door open for some honest conversation, even between people who disagree.

I’ve had enough of talking about Pat Robertson, so I want to turn to something far more positive.

Undoubtedly, you have already heard pleas from many different relief organizations who are already collecting funds for Haiti relief. I know how difficult and overwhelming it can get,  deciding who to give to, how much, and all the while wondering how your hard-earned money will be spent. Will those funds really be used wisely?
UMCORI’m a United Methodist pastor and part of the United Methodist “tribe”. (Tribe is a much better word than “denomination” .) I don’t support everything that most of our UM agencies do, but one whose work I always fully support is the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR). UMCOR is often among the first relief agencies to arrive at a disaster area, and they are always among the last to leave. For example, four-and-a-half years after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, UMCOR is still there working with the community, government, and other agencies to continue the rebuilding process.

UMCOR’s values are simple. They value all human life and form partnerships with the people they serve in order to make their lives more sustainable and healthy. They’re not there to proselytize or to convert people to Christianity. They’re there doing what the world expects Christians to do– to serve with love and humility, expecting nothing in return except the satisfaction that they are doing Christ’s work with people who need it the most. UMCOR already has a strong relationship with Haiti and has been an ongoing presence there already. So, they are already hard at work in the relief process.

And the other incredible thing is that every dollar given to UMCOR goes directly to the ground and becomes the resources people need to rebuild. All of UMCOR’s administrative costs are covered by the United Methodist Church. They don’t run slick advertisements and commercials. They simply hunker down, do the work they were called to do and rely on a website and word of mouth. That’s it!

If you’d like to make a donation to UMCOR’s relief work in Haiti, simply click here.

I also realize that many of you might not be so sure about giving to a religious organization. Maybe that’s too uncomfortable, no matter how good and honest their intentions may be. I can understand that. So, if you’re uncomfortable giving to UMCOR, the American Red Cross is a also a fantastic organization to give to.

For those of you who pray, please do. I firmly believe that God works through the prayers of people everywhere to bring healing and help. I’m not sure how that works. I just know that the prayers of God’s people can accomplish so much.

I hope you’ll join me in being a blessing to the people of Haiti!

Thanks for reading and sharing…

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Filed under Church Culture and Leadership, Cultural Quakes

I Stand By My Comments on Pat Robertson

If you are new to my blog, welcome!! I think you’ll find things here to be thoughtful and passionate. You probably won’t agree with everything, but I aim to keep my thoughts sincere and authentic. I always welcome your comments and suggestions.

Yesterday I posted an open letter to Dr. Pat Robertson condemning his recent remarks concerning the earthquake and humanitarian crisis in Haiti. To my complete surprise, it created a small firestorm on the web with links to my post placed on Wikipedia, a news blog, on WordPress‘s dashboard, and from many different forums, Tweets, and search engines. Thousands of people have viewed it and several dozen have left comments which have been very diverse and at times quite colorful, too.

I still stand by my comments, without reservation.

However, I would like to clarify a few things:

1) While I fervently condemn Dr. Robertson’s comments, I do not condemn or judge him as a person and as a brother in Christ. I do not question his character or his faith, but I do seriously question his judgment. I wish him no ill will and pray that God would use him to be a blessing to the rest of the world with the gifts and influence God has given him.

2) While Jesus commands us to go one-on-one to those with whom we hold grievances, he also tells his disciples to be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. (In other words, be both good and wise.) Robertson’s comments were made publicly. They needed to be denounced publicly. Both the world and the Church needed to know that comments like his have no place within Jesus Christ or his Church.

3) I am not seeking to create division. As a leader in the Church, I must call out bad fruit when I see it, and that might create some division. So be it. However, I saw a greater danger in Robertson’s comments dividing a watching world from Christ’s Church, and I could not sit silently and allow that to happen. Also, I could not allow Christians and non-Christians to assume that his comments were at all representative of Jesus. They were not.

4) One can argue theology, the judgment of God, and consequences of sin all day, but still two realities remain. First, no one can state with absolute certainty the reasons why the Haitians or anyone else suffer certain natural disasters. Robertson’s comments were pure conjecture and completely unnecessary. Secondly, they were made in poor taste and timing. From a purely human perspective, why say something like that in the first place?

So, was it fair to tell Robertson to “shut up?” Well, if I said those same things, I hope someone would have the love and honesty enough to tell me the same.

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Filed under Church Culture and Leadership, Cultural Trends, Politics

My Two Words for Pat Robertson: Shut Up!

A public letter for Dr. Pat Robertson:

Dear Dr. Robertson-
As a fellow Christian and Church leader, I have two words for you out of my deep concern for the people of Haiti, the rest of the world, Christ’s Church, and you: shut up!

Allow me to elaborate.

As you know, the media has reported you saying that the earthquake in Haiti resulted from Haitians having once made a pact with the devil. The reality of Haiti’s ongoing poverty and suffering has been heartbreaking to so many people. Much of the world is now in shock and in terrible grief over the aftermath of Tuesday’s earthquake. Then, like salt poured into an open wound, we have to deal with your comments. You haven’t done yourself any service by trying to clarify them; if anything you’ve made things worse.

I fully understand that too often the media wrongly reports things that notable people say or quotes them out of context, but even if you are within a slim sliver of being slightly, remotely correct that the earthquake in Haiti was somehow a consequence of a “widely-discussed 1791 slave rebellion led by Boukman Dutty at Bois Caiman, where the slaves allegedly made a famous pact with the devil in exchange for victory over the French,” in the face of such death and vast human suffering in Haiti, your horrific comments are painful and inappropriate to the extreme.

So, the next time something like this happens (God forbid!), please limit yourself to share your sorrow, pray, and encourage fellow Christians to give and to get involved. If you’re feeling the need to say anything else, do yourself and all the rest of us a favor and go on a very long vacation… or just retire! And if the temptation is still within you, buy a case of duct tape to paste on your mouth.

Furthermore, it is apparent that you do not understand the impact that comments like these have on those who are not Christians. They hear you say things like this and then distance themselves even further from Christianity and the Church. You make it especially difficult for the rest of us to do our jobs. Now, thanks to you, it is even more difficult to invite and form new disciples of Jesus when the same people we’re trying to love and reach more profoundly associate the Church with the kind of coldness, insensitivity, harshness, and judgmental attitudes that you and others before you have espoused, most especially during horrific times of crisis and disaster.

So, just in case you didn’t hear me before, please take my humble advice, Dr. Robertson: shut up!

Respectfully Yours,

Rev. Chris Owens
First United Methodist Church, Senior Pastor
Laurel, MD

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Filed under Church Culture and Leadership, Cultural Quakes, Politics