Perkins School of Theology in El Salvador

Dr. Harold J. Recinos, Professor of Church and Society at Perkins School of Theology, is leading his class of 14 students to El Salvador during spring break 2014. The group is examining Christian mission in cultural context as part of Perkins’ Global Theological Education program. This immersion experience enables students to engage in a sustained theological and ethical reflection upon the meaning of mission and education in Salvadoran society. The course includes meetings in various locations with leaders of popular political organizations, schools, women’s organizations, ecumenical associations, the base Christian communities, and political leaders.

Perkins student Lael C Melville, DPsy, a 2016 M.Div. candidate and president of the Perkins Black Seminarians Association, also is posting on her blog: http://llaelm.wordpress.com

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‘The fuel that ignites’

An update from Lael C Melville, PsyD, a 2016 M.Div. candidate and president of the Perkins Black Seminarians Association, who also is blogging at “Following the Passion of the Cross to El Salvador”:

Now I lay me down to sleep, God help my exhausted feet

If I should die before I wake, God bless my joy it is no mistake

For I have found the fuel that ignites, the fire in the darkest nights

The fire is from God above, the essence His unchanging love

Today (Wednesday, March 12, 2014) we visited an agency called Pro Search Association of El Salvador. The goal of this agency is to find missing children. A stark contrast to our earlier visit to a neighborhood school, Blanco Rose. At the neighborhood school 250 children, teachers and staff greeted us. The beautiful faces of the children along with the prepared songs and dances were now a stark contrast to children’s voices silenced. In a life full of contrasts, the questions become apparent. What is our role as pastors in the margins between the living and the lost? What can we do locally (in our own neighborhoods) and globally in our world to enhance the perspective of an abundant life in our world for all? How do we help create the change we want to see?

Yesterday I introduced the idea of a finite human being in relationship with an infinite God. This relationship between God and human beings has the capacity to thrive wherever we are. The essential ingredients to thriving are: fuel, air and desire. The fuel is the recognition that there is opportunity at hand. That fuel is a reminder that somebody may want to have a relationship with God who has not had an opportunity to hear about God. Second, the air is the environment or culture. That is, how will the church (human beings who have a relationship with God) respond based on Christian beliefs (Bible) and social context? Finally, desire is that which God provides when Christians acknowledge that there are life situations and circumstances that are bigger than our capacity to respond. All three conditions are available in San Salvador (and likely in most other countries around the world).

The challenge I am extending to others and myself is to take inventory of your surroundings. Next, assess whether your humanity (finitude) has an opportunity based on a relationship with God (infinity) to respond to need/poverty/lack. That is, do we realize our own limits? Do we realize how much we need God to respond to issues concerning the human condition? Finally, be still and listen for the desires of your heart. View the response of your heart as a call to action.

The silence of the missing children and the laugher of the children of Blanco Rose is an opportunity for all to assess. What are the opportunities of our life? What assessments do we need to respond to? How will our findings make this world a better and safer place for our children, that is, the children of the world?

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