Friday, July 22, 2011

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me...

July 22, 2011

Today I am blessed beyond measure to celebrate my 30th birthday. On this day in 1981 the Lord sent me to Clifford and Greta Jenkins on the island of Manhattan. Through their nurture and care, I was blessed to grow up in a family where I always felt the touch of unconditional love and the breath of God's presence.

It was never crystal clear what my calling would be as a boy, yet I am eternally grateful for parents and siblings who were relentless in preparing the soil of my heart to receive the seed of God's Word. These three decades have been a rollercoaster of both emotions and experiences, yet I am thankful to God for every lesson learned. For I realize now, more than ever, that every high and low was, has been, and continues to be a pruning process preparing me for the purposes that God desires to fulfill in my life.

My formal training in high school and college was geared toward the field of business. But how blessed am I that in ways beyond my understanding... God would entrust me with the honor of handling the business of His kingdom through the awesome work of ministry. In a manner that I could not have anticipated, God asked me to lay aside my desires in order to fulfill His. He asked me to lay aside what I wanted to do, in order to what God called me to do.

I could not see the big picture, (and still don't), but faith is a mighty force that compels us to move forward. And as we move forward by faith, my life is a witness that God will open doors that you never knew existed. I don't mean to preach tonight, but my heart never ceases to stand in awe of God's mighty power and providence.

When I look back at the choices I could have made... the roads I could have traveled... or the pits I could have fallen into... I am overwhelmed by the precision in which God moved and had His way in my life. Accepting the call, attending and graduating from Princeton Seminary, meeting and marrying Courtney, all these blessings can directly be attributed to a willingness to follow God's leadership.

God's blessings abound. Serving the Shiloh Church, Courtney serving Euclid Ave., and on this my 30th birthday the blessing of spending it in the same place where Jesus spent His. I am humbled beyond words.

As I close tonight I cannot help but be reminded of a passage that sits at the foundation of my call to ministry. It is Luke 4:18-19. Jesus is about to begin His Galilean ministry. But before He begins, He goes to His hometown of Nazareth and reads the words of the prophet Isaiah:

"The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."

I am so grateful that as God leads and guides me in walking the path of faith, His Spirit goes with me.


Thursday, July 21, 2011

More Photos

So here the remaining photos from day 1: Here

Here are the photos from Yesterday, Day 2: Here

We Have No Idea...

July 21, 2011

Today was less taxing on the body, but even more taxing on the mind. Most of our travel was by bus, yet the degree to which many of us were further enlightened cannot be overstated. We began the day by leaving our hotel in Jerusalem with plans to spend the next few days in Bethlehem.

On our way, we had the chance to meet a lady who works for an agency called the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD). She shared the many ways in which Palestinians have been displaced... and as a result, have either lost their homes to settlers or had their homes arbitrarily demolished by the government.

Later on in the day, we actually had the unique opportunity to visit a small village-turned-refugee camp in the town of Anata. Literally cut off from mainstream civilization, Anata is home to a number of indigenous people who are left to fend for themselves. They do not receive any municipal benefits (santation removal, running water, parks for children to play, representation in government, conflict resolution from the local police, etc.) yet they are forced to pay taxes that end up covering the costs to pave the streets of Main Street Jerusalem, a place they do not have the privilege to enjoy.

As I was sharing with Courtney this afternoon, it is certain that we as members of the Western world have our fair share of problems and issues. Yet without diminishing or belittling the struggle that so many of us face in America, when it comes to the systemic challenges that many in this part of the world face, the two realities pale in comparison.

Imagine paying taxes for benefits you never see while your cross-town neighbors enjoy the luxury of living life tax-free... Imagine having absolutely no access to running water... imagine hoping and praying the best for our children yet every time opportunities arise for a brighter future, they find themselves on the short end of the stick... while these and so many other realities may be exceptions for the "privileged" around the world... for the vast majority of the citizenry in this region... it has become the norm.

We have so much to learn in our Americanized, technology-driven, paparazzi-fueled, pleasure and profit-seeking, barely any compassion-having culture... but for right now... we have no idea!

Stay tuned...


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Photos from today

Photos from today....take a look

A Day of Enlightenment

July 20, 2011

Today was interesting. We had the awesome privilege to tour Jerusalem Old City... which consisted of many of the Holy sites that relate to the faiths of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Courtney took a ton of photos and I am grateful that we now have a huge digital library that memorializes the day.

While the tour itself was enriching... it was tremendously long. Given the intense heat and the need to stay alert at all times... walking for 5 hours straights can be a draining experience. But we thank God for the ability to see the sights that so many of us have read and heard about for so many years.

Our evening activity was by far the highlight, or lowlight, of the day. We had the opportunity to watch a documentary called Occupation 101: The Voices of the Silenced Majority. It shares the testimonies and stories of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that I am certain at least 98% of America knows nothing about. Yet what is so striking is that much of the reason the conflict has played out the way it has can be directly attributed to American foreign policy.

Of course, when one hears of the deficiencies of America's foreign policies, a common response could be that we should focus our attention more on what is taking place on the homefront. Yet concerning this conflict, it is clear that the manner in which the United States is governing its participation in the Middle East makes it that much more difficult to meet the needs of so many at home.

As I will share in much more detail as the conference plays out, the American public is working at such a disadvantage when it comes to the realities of what is really going on here. My heart is with the indigenous people of this region, those who have been unjustly displaced and continue to be the victims of systematic oppression.

My prayer is that the American public, and the Church universal will open its eyes to the truth, and at the risk of seeking justice for all of God's people, do what is necessary in accomplishing what the Lord requires of us. (Micah 6)

Until tomorrow...


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Pre-Conference Thoughts

(Old City Jerusalem)

After a rather uneventful transatlantic flight, (Thank you Lord!) Courtney and I finally made it to Israel-Palestine. We arrived shortly before noon local time and made it to our hotel seemingly before anyone else from the conference. Hence, WE SLEPT! While the flight was a great experience, travelling for 11 hours without the ability to lie down takes its toll on your body.

We slept so good in fact, that we overslept for dinner. By the time we received a call from the conference personnel, we had to rush downstairs in order to grab a few morsels. Shortly thereafter we had the opportunity to meet and receive directives from the conference staff as it pertains to our schedule over the next two weeks. We then had a chance to fellowship with the other attendees who are literally from all over the world, i.e. South Africa, the Netherlands, France, Great Britain, Brazil, etc.

From a few minutes before we landed up until the present moment, I have a felt a sense of awe. While the conference has not yet begun, I feel tremendously blessed to experience this part of the world first-hand. For my entire life, I, along with the rest of the Western world have heard the news reports of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Yet what is becoming clearer to me from my reading (prior to leaving Cleveland) and my brief personal interactions thus far, there are multiple perspectives from the Palestinian angle that I never considered… especially the Palestinian Christian perspective!

Given my heartfelt passion to better serve the interest of “the least of these,” I am looking forward to learning more about the conflict from the testimonies of dehumanization and sociopolitical oppression that so many of our Palestinian brothers and sisters have had to endure. In so doing, I believe it will enhance my outlook on serving within the culturally-rich context of the African-American community.

Thank you Lord for this great opportunity. Thank you for your travelling mercy, grace, and love. Our prayer is that you would use this time to further enrich our marriage and ministries that we may be better equipped to serve You, and Your purposes. Have your way… and we will be so careful to give You the praise. In Jesus name. Amen.

Cory C. Jenkins

Franciscan Prayer

 This prayer was shared tonight in my small group.  It blessed me in a powerful way:

May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, hard hearts, half-truths, and superficial relationships.

May God bless you so that you may live from deep within your heart where God's Spirit dwells.

May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people.

May God bless you 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.

May God bless you so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and turn their pain into joy.

And may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, in your neighborhood, so that you will courageously try what you don't think you can do, but, in Jesus Christ, you'll have all the strength necessary.

May God bless you fearlessly to speak out about injustice, unjust laws, corrupt politicians, unjust and cruel treatment of prisoners, and senseless wars, genocides, starvations, and poverty that are so pervasive.

May God bless you that you remember we are all called to continue God's redemptive work of love and healing in God's place, in and through God's name, in God's Spirit, continually creating and breathing new life and grace into everything and everyone we touch.