Letter from Paul Jeffrey

A letter to my supporting congregations
18 April 2008
Dear friends:
I’ve spent the last couple of weeks at home, a rare treat for me, and especially delightful in that it coincided with the emergence of spring flowers after the long and gray Oregon winter.
In recent weeks I led a workshop in Toronto on disaster photography for church-based communicators, lectured at the University of Oregon Law School about journalism and conflict, spoke at an annual conference mission gathering in Los Angeles, presented testimony about domestic violence in Central America to the immigration hearings of Honduran women seeking asylum in the U.S., and traveled to Brazil to write about persecution of church workers in the Amazon and the current struggles of street children in Sao Paulo.
I also went to the Philippines, where I documented the church’s work for peace in Mindanao, and interviewed families of some Filipina women who are domestic workers in Hong Kong. Then I went to Hong Kong to interview the women, who are involved with a United Methodist-supported ministry there that helps the women survive financially and emotionally as well as encourage them to fight for their basic human rights, which are routinely violated. I enjoyed connecting the experience of the women with their families’ experience back home; too often we see migrant workers only with a local context, when in fact they embody a larger story that is important to understand if we’re going to discern how to faithfully respond to the demands of a globalized world..
The Amazon, Philippines, Hong Kong . . . what weaves these disparate threads all together, besides my cluttered office, is a church that accompanies people as they struggle in all sorts of ways. I am repeatedly surprised and delighted by the courage and commitment of our faith communities as they make real the Gospel’s offer of abundant life for all.
Right now I’m plodding through the writing and photo editing left from those trips. Next week I’ll head to Fort Worth where I’ll help photograph General Conference. Shortly after I return home from Texas, I’ll head to Africa for three weeks, where I’ll document the struggles of Darfur refugees in eastern Chad.
The Chad trip, which I’m doing as part of my work with Action by Churches Together (ACT), will also yield material for a book of mine on Darfur that will be published a year from now by Seabury Press, the publishing house of the Episcopal Church. Its release will come shortly before the summer mission schools, where the geographical theme for both
2009 and 2020 will be Sudan.
I’ll come home from Africa in June just in time for our daughter Abi’s graduation from high school in California. Many of you know that Abi has gone through some pretty rough times since we moved to the U.S. in 2004, but she has made great progress and is becoming a delightful and responsible young adult. Lyda and Lucas and I will be there to celebrate with her this rite of passage, and we ask that you continue to keep her in your prayers as she faces new choices in the months ahead.
A few weeks after that, Lyda will start an appointment as a mission interpreter for Global Ministries. She’ll be based in New York City.
Oregon will continue to be “home” for me, though I’ll spend part of my time in New York as well. Not to worry, although we’ll be based in different places for the next few months, we’re still married and wonderfully in love!
Thanks for the many ways your congregation is involved in mission, both locally and around the world. Thanks for your support for my ministry.
Know that God’s spirit of justice, delight, and compassion links our energies in creative outreach to our sisters and brothers who desperately need peace.
Paul Jeffrey

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