9/11, Jihad, and Hope

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Dear friends,

As we remember the 20th anniversary of 9/11, I want to share a story about
Jihad. This is not a story about global terrorism, religious extremism, and
death. It’s a story about a devout Muslim, neighbor-love, and hope.

A few years after 9/11, I was living in a neighborhood in Addis Ababa known
as Little Mogadishu. The neighborhood got its name from the numerous
Somali refugees who had fled there from the violence ravaging Somalia. My
neighbors carried stories of terror and trauma similar to survivors of 9/11.

At the heart of Little Mogadishu is a bustling open-air market. Throughout this
labyrinth, you can find vegetables, electronics, fashion clothes, international
money transfers, khat, and pretty much everything in between. So one day I
ducked inside a tiny shop to buy a pair of shoes.

As so often, I was carrying my laptop with me. My entire professional life was
inside that computer, and I foolishly took it with me everywhere I went... Read More

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My deepest passion is encouraging others in love. As you stop and think with me, I hope you feel more at home in your humanity, less lonely in what you believe, and fresh courage to love others beyond boundaries. Thanks for reading!

Neighbor-Love: The Course

How do we truly flourish? Take a deep dive with me into the rich history, profound meaning, and practical implications of loving our neighbors as ourselves. Jesus promised, “Do this and you will live” (Luke 10:28). This course shows you how.

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What’s Your Story?

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Dear friends,

What’s your story?

Many ancient cultures told stories about our world that begin with violence. The gods were envious and angry. So they fought each other, killed each other, and we were made from the bloody aftermath as their servants.

The world that emerged was a mirror of this original conflict: kings, soldiers, and slaves competing and cowering in a struggle for status and survival. Priests enshrined the winner gods in temples and images throughout the land to remind people of where they came from and how the world works.

These stories were the bestsellers in their time. Strikingly, archaeologists have discovered versions of them in places as far afield as ancient Mesopotamia, Greece, and South America.

Why were these stories so popular?

Perhaps their popularity makes sense in light of the headline news stories we tell today. In these stories, the great events, the events that supposedly change our world and grip our attention, are often driven by competition and conflict, violence and victory... Read More

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My deepest passion is encouraging others in love. As you stop and think with me, I hope you feel more at home in your humanity, less lonely in what you believe, and fresh courage to love others beyond boundaries. Thanks for reading!

Neighbor-Love: The Course

How do we truly flourish? Take a deep dive with me into the rich history, profound meaning, and practical implications of loving our neighbors as ourselves. Jesus promised, “Do this and you will live” (Luke 10:28). This course shows you how.

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God’s Love Makes Us Family

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Dear friends,

 

For the last month, Lily and I have enjoyed the special gift of hosting Lily’s sister Eleni and her beloved children Naomi (12), Nolawi (11), and Naodi (4) from Ethiopia in Illinois. We have shared a wonderful adventure of playing, learning, and serving together in a time of much-needed renewal.

 

This week, five of our families gathered at my parents’ house for a farewell celebration. After all of the yummy desserts were eaten, conversations were finished, and games were played, I opened my phone and looked at the picture I had taken. There was nothing surprising in the image — not even the mischievous bunny ears and mirthful faces 🙂

But what I saw deeply moved me. It struck me as a living icon of what is possible in our world through God’s love: a family bound together across so many of the differences that contemporary culture says should divide us:

 

We were born and raised as citizens in different nations — Ethiopia, Mexico, and the United States... Read More

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Do you enjoy Stop & Think? Become a Sustaining Patron with a monthly donation and invest in my work around the world. Gifts are tax-deductible through the Institute for Faith and Flourishing. Yours with gratitude, Andrew

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My deepest passion is encouraging others in love. As you stop and think with me, I hope you feel more at home in your humanity, less lonely in what you believe, and fresh courage to love others beyond boundaries. Thanks for reading!

Neighbor-Love: The Course

How do we truly flourish? Take a deep dive with me into the rich history, profound meaning, and practical implications of loving our neighbors as ourselves. Jesus promised, “Do this and you will live” (Luke 10:28). This course shows you how.

View Course

Human: Neither Gods Nor Demons

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Dear friends,

 

The Christian imagination invites us to recover a more complex vision of who we are as humans. This moral vision energizes us to better understand ourselves and to cultivate healthier relationships and public life. Its “complexity” means that it braids together seemingly opposite truths that reflect the actual state of our reality and cultivate wisdom for living together. My late PhD adviser Professor Jean Elshtain called this a “moral anthropology.”

 

On the one hand, human life is infinitely precious and worthy of cherishing. We know this when we hold a baby in our arms and look deeply into the faces of our loved ones.

 

Christians, Jews, Muslims, and many others agree that we are created and loved by God. Genesis 1 teaches that we were designed in God’s image and invested with divine value. This means that God created each person as an embodiment of God’s own dignity with a calling to care for God’s world... Read More

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Do you enjoy Stop & Think? Become a Sustaining Patron with a monthly donation and invest in my work around the world. Gifts are tax-deductible through the Institute for Faith and Flourishing. Yours with gratitude, Andrew

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My deepest passion is encouraging others in love. As you stop and think with me, I hope you feel more at home in your humanity, less lonely in what you believe, and fresh courage to love others beyond boundaries. Thanks for reading!

Neighbor-Love: The Course

How do we truly flourish? Take a deep dive with me into the rich history, profound meaning, and practical implications of loving our neighbors as ourselves. Jesus promised, “Do this and you will live” (Luke 10:28). This course shows you how.

View Course

Paul’s Riot Gear

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Dear Friends,

 

Paul writes from his prison cell in Rome to the Jesus community in Ephesus that we are at war. Paul’s intense language makes sense in light of the violent conflict he survived in Ephesus and our similar experiences of conflict today.

 

Paul was one of the pioneers who took the message of Jesus to Ephesus, perhaps the most famous city in the Roman Empire besides Rome itself. After just three months, Paul was painfully rejected at the local synagogue. So Paul started hosting conversations and healing the sick in public spaces around the city (Acts 19:8-12). For Paul, the message of Jesus wasn’t confined to religious gatherings; it belonged just as much in the street among strangers and the suffering.

 

The core of Paul’s message was metanoia: a call to a change of mind and practice in response to Jesus (Acts 20:21). Local sorcerers were so inspired by Paul’s ministry that they voluntarily burned the magical tools of their trade, which were worth massive amounts of money (Acts 19:17-20)... Read More

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Do you enjoy Stop & Think? Become a Sustaining Patron with a monthly donation and invest in my work around the world. Gifts are tax-deductible through the Institute for Faith and Flourishing. Yours with gratitude, Andrew

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My deepest passion is encouraging others in love. As you stop and think with me, I hope you feel more at home in your humanity, less lonely in what you believe, and fresh courage to love others beyond boundaries. Thanks for reading!

Neighbor-Love: The Course

How do we truly flourish? Take a deep dive with me into the rich history, profound meaning, and practical implications of loving our neighbors as ourselves. Jesus promised, “Do this and you will live” (Luke 10:28). This course shows you how.

View Course

Podcast on the War in Ethiopia

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Dear friends,

 

This week I’m sharing a one-hour interview that I recently recorded about the war in northern Ethiopia. If you’d like to better understand what’s happening, the larger context to the conflict, and how you might respond, I hope this conversation is helpful. Special thanks to Zach Elliott for inviting me back to LAB: The Podcast for this important conversation.

 

Please join me in praying and advocating for a sustained ceasefire, unhindered humanitarian aid for the suffering, and a dialogue-based resolution to this devastating conflict.

 

Yours,

Andrew

 

.. Read More

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Do you enjoy Stop & Think? Become a Sustaining Patron with a monthly donation and invest in my work around the world. Gifts are tax-deductible through the Institute for Faith and Flourishing. Yours with gratitude, Andrew

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My deepest passion is encouraging others in love. As you stop and think with me, I hope you feel more at home in your humanity, less lonely in what you believe, and fresh courage to love others beyond boundaries. Thanks for reading!

Neighbor-Love: The Course

How do we truly flourish? Take a deep dive with me into the rich history, profound meaning, and practical implications of loving our neighbors as ourselves. Jesus promised, “Do this and you will live” (Luke 10:28). This course shows you how.

View Course

Being Loved and Known

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Dear friends,

 

A friend recently put words to something that struck me as both obvious and like an important revelation: being loved and being known are two different things and two different needs in our lives. We may have one without the other.

 

We need to be loved because we need to experience that our lives have value. Human beings are not content with merely existing, just like plants can’t survive in the soil without water and sunlight. Love enlivens and illuminates our worth.

 

But we also need to be known, because our lives have inner depth and we feel lonely and less than ourselves when this depth is unexplored or treated like it doesn’t exist. Being known is like cultivating the soil of the self. It enriches the depth and density of who we are, and creates a sense of rootedness in relationship.

 

People in our lives may genuinely love us. They may smile and embrace us, say kind words to us, spend time with us, give gifts to us, go out of their way for us and generously help us when we’re in need... Read More

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Do you enjoy Stop & Think? Become a Sustaining Patron with a monthly donation and invest in my work around the world. Gifts are tax-deductible through the Institute for Faith and Flourishing. Yours with gratitude, Andrew

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My deepest passion is encouraging others in love. As you stop and think with me, I hope you feel more at home in your humanity, less lonely in what you believe, and fresh courage to love others beyond boundaries. Thanks for reading!

Neighbor-Love: The Course

How do we truly flourish? Take a deep dive with me into the rich history, profound meaning, and practical implications of loving our neighbors as ourselves. Jesus promised, “Do this and you will live” (Luke 10:28). This course shows you how.

View Course

A Lament for a Land Beloved

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Dear friends,

 

Not long ago, I sat in a memory-saturated room in Addis and heard the most remarkable questions from some of the people I love most in this world. We had just celebrated the wedding of a beloved friend, but these were the considerations on people’s minds:

 

“What if the violence escalates and we don’t have a country anymore?” “What if we can’t escape to safety?” “What if we can escape but our families can’t? If violent mobs come to our neighborhoods again, will we pick up sticks, stones, and metal pipes to defend our neighbors? If this is what we need to do to survive, is life still worth living?”

 

As I listened and my heart bled, I wondered if these were the questions people were asking in Rwanda before the genocide exploded in 1994. What a horrific thought. It was the kind of conversation I never want anyone to hear but consider sacred because it was the honesty of my friends in a land I love... Read More

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Do you enjoy Stop & Think? Become a Sustaining Patron with a monthly donation and invest in my work around the world. Gifts are tax-deductible through the Institute for Faith and Flourishing. Yours with gratitude, Andrew

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My deepest passion is encouraging others in love. As you stop and think with me, I hope you feel more at home in your humanity, less lonely in what you believe, and fresh courage to love others beyond boundaries. Thanks for reading!

Neighbor-Love: The Course

How do we truly flourish? Take a deep dive with me into the rich history, profound meaning, and practical implications of loving our neighbors as ourselves. Jesus promised, “Do this and you will live” (Luke 10:28). This course shows you how.

View Course

A Prayer for Enemies

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Dear Friends,

I’ve just finished teaching a 4-week Zoom course called “Love Your Enemy.” In the face of rising conflict here in Ethiopia, I decided to devote a month to studying what some of our greatest leaders have taught about loving people who hate us and want to harm us. We looked at Jesus, Howard Thurman, Martin Luther King Jr, and Arthur Brooks.

Wonderful participants joined the course from four continents and eight countries: Ethiopia, Uganda, Côte d’Ivoire, South Africa, the United States, Sweden, Finland, and the Philippines. As we studied together, we found that praying for our enemies is one of the most consistent and powerful practices of love that these leaders taught. Prayer interrupts and can uproot the enmity we feel toward others as we talk to God for their wellbeing.

Still, students asked what a prayer for enemies might actually say and sound like. In response, I’ve written a prayer for enemies that I want to share with you... Read More

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Donation = Appreciation

Do you enjoy Stop & Think? Become a Sustaining Patron with a monthly donation and invest in my work around the world. Gifts are tax-deductible through the Institute for Faith and Flourishing. Yours with gratitude, Andrew

Sign Up for the Newsletter


My deepest passion is encouraging others in love. As you stop and think with me, I hope you feel more at home in your humanity, less lonely in what you believe, and fresh courage to love others beyond boundaries. Thanks for reading!

Neighbor-Love: The Course

How do we truly flourish? Take a deep dive with me into the rich history, profound meaning, and practical implications of loving our neighbors as ourselves. Jesus promised, “Do this and you will live” (Luke 10:28). This course shows you how.

View Course

On Death Threats

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Dear Friends,

Melkam Fasika — Happy Ethiopian Easter! This season has taken on a new significance for me, and I want to share a very personal reflection with you as we meditate on the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

On Good Friday 2020, I started receiving dozens of death threats. People sent me graphic images of death, demons, and heavy weapons. They said they would butcher my body, run me over with a car, or throw me off a bridge. I can feel my heart beating faster and my body becoming tense as I recall these violent words and images. It was a life-changing season.

Why did this happen? Powerful people were outraged that I was trying to build bridges between extremely polarized leaders, and they unleashed a campaign of fake news against me, including a lie-filled YouTube “documentary” that got 55,000 views. Soon enough, people who mostly identified as Christians started promising they would kill me.

I never thought I’d say this... Read More

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Donation = Appreciation

Do you enjoy Stop & Think? Become a Sustaining Patron with a monthly donation and invest in my work around the world. Gifts are tax-deductible through the Institute for Faith and Flourishing. Yours with gratitude, Andrew

Sign Up for the Newsletter


My deepest passion is encouraging others in love. As you stop and think with me, I hope you feel more at home in your humanity, less lonely in what you believe, and fresh courage to love others beyond boundaries. Thanks for reading!

Neighbor-Love: The Course

How do we truly flourish? Take a deep dive with me into the rich history, profound meaning, and practical implications of loving our neighbors as ourselves. Jesus promised, “Do this and you will live” (Luke 10:28). This course shows you how.

View Course