1. El Salvador’s gang truce
Earlier this year, imprisoned leaders of El Salvador’s two main gangs declared a truce, mediated in part by the head chaplain for the military and police. For the story of another person of faith who has been serving among gang members in El Salvador, see this. While the country’s murder rate has dropped dramatically (52%) and the truce has held longer than virtually anyone anticipated, it’s still a volatile situation. The Washington Office on Latin America’s commentary on the truce seems spot on (emphasis mine):
The current truce opens a tremendous opportunity: Salvadoran society, the Salvadoran government, the Salvadoran private sector, and international donors should move quickly to use the pause in violence to help install social service and job programs in some of the poorest and most gang-ridden communities, in a way that responds to the real needs of those communities most affected by violence. The Funes administration must take advantage of this moment to work with Salvadoran society in developing a solid, long-term, comprehensive anti-gang strategy that emphasizes violence prevention, reintegration, and rehabilitation. Quick movement, even of small amounts of money, for outreach centers, job training and placement programs, and other activities could send an important and positive message that might help transform the short-term violence reduction that has accompanied the truce into a long-term lowering of crime and violence rates. You don’t have to trust the truce to see the opportunity it presents.
2. Brazil’s “March for Jesus”
Last Saturday in Sao Paolo, more than a million Christians participated in the city’s annual “March for Jesus.” Brazil has long been traditionally Catholic, but evangelicals and Pentecostals are quickly gaining ground, as the size of this march demonstrates. But not all evangelicals in Brazil think this march is completely a good thing. Some are concerned about the event’s sponsoring church, saying, “The march has turned into the brand name for a patented pseudo-Pentecostalism.”
3. A different kind of mission trip
Those who’ve read my recent posts on short-term mission trips and on the Association for a more Just Society will be interested in this recent Huffington Post piece by Jo Kadlecek, journalist-in-residence at Gordon College, about Nicholas Wolterstorff’s recent seminar in Honduras and about questions to ask about mission trips:
The hundreds of young people and adults who travel for short-term missions here, [AJS co-director Kurt] Ver Beek said, don’t always understand what they’re walking into. He believes they genuinely want to be “agents of change,” but too often overlook the reasons behind a country’s systemic problems in the first place. “Justice: Theory Meets Practice,” a seminar he’d dreamt of for several years, was designed specifically to address the larger questions behind such troubles, those that triggered unjust and dangerous situations.
4. Friendship trips
While we’re on the topic of short-term mission trips, the good folks at Alter Video Magazine have a new short film featuring Brazilian pastor Claudio Oliver, who has been on the receiving end of a lot of teams, but proposes a new model he calls “friendship trips,” involving a building project of a very different kind. (HT Katie Jo Ramsey)
5. Chris Wright on missional churches
Chris Wright, head of Langham Partnership International, was the guest speaker at the annual meeting of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana this year. The EPC shared this brief interview in which he speaks about missional churches.
6. Introducing Deidox
Somewhere recently (through Jake Belder, perhaps?) I stumbled upon Deidox, “a new series of short documentary films exploring the faith of everyday people.” I’m really looking forward to following along.
Repaso is intended as a thought-provoking compilation of news and commentary from the past week related to the intersections of faith, development, justice and peace. As always, I welcome your thoughts on any of the links and ideas in this roundup!
[Photo credit: “Mara Salvatrucha gang leaders participate in a press conference at the end of a visit by Jose Miguel Insulza, OAS Secretary General, at La Esperanza prison, in San Salvador, on July 12, 2012. (Jose Cabezas/AFP/GettyImages)” via theepochtimes.com]