"Where Love Makes the Difference"


This blog is the personal thoughts of Pastor Jonathan Brooks and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or beliefs of Canaan Community Church or any of its members.  

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The Pastors of Kibera

Posted by Canaan Community Church on June 25, 2012 at 2:30 PM Comments comments ()
"And I will give you Pastor's after my own heart who will feed you with knowledge and understanding." Jeremiah 3:15 Today we visited Kibera the largest slum area in the world with 1.5 million people living in extreme poverty. In Kibera there are over 500 Pastors who live in the slum, many with small mud houses no larger than our bedrooms! These men and women of God are using their meager resources to bring development to their communities. In Kibera there are over 42 different tribes each with their own customs, traditions and language. Each church I visited today ( will visit many more tomorrow) was not just a church. They had a school, a community center, a business of some kind being run by the youth as well as the church. Now remember that we are talking about small mud shelters with tin roofs so to have classrooms they are hanging sheets from clothes lines and we are talking 100 students in a space the size of our church nursery! What I loved about the slum area is that everything you need you can find in your win community being created, packaged and sold by people from the community. Unlike us back home where we have to leve our communities to find fresh food, or safe recreation. Our money leaves our communities immediately because we own none of the businesses in our neighborhoods. Even though they are small businesses which don't make much money the little money they have just rotates through the community so they are self sustaining. We may not feel there standard of living is acceptable but it is theirs and is not imposed by an outside community! Today I realized we truly have no excuse not to be serving our community in a greater way, one of the Pastors said to us today "Give me 5 men and women of God and we'll transform Kibera!" what a powerful proclamation of the power of God, notice he didn't say five men or women but men and women of God!!! Canaan I say to you just as Pastor Kloch said to us today " Give me five people of God and we can change our reality!" Asantay sa na, Pastor J

U call that church?

Posted by Canaan Community Church on June 24, 2012 at 9:25 PM Comments comments ()
Well, today we got up early to be at an African Orthodox Church this morning at 6am dressed in traditional Gabi's owhich are cotton material you user, women cover their heads. Also since this church is a Judaeo-Christian church (Jews and Christians together) the men and women sat in opposite sides of the church. Also the church was setup as a Jewish temple complete with the Hokiest of Holies behind a veil where only the priests were allowed to go! The service was in Ahmaric (language of Ethiopia) & Hebrew language of Israel. I didn't understand a word but I felt the presence of God and the sincerity of the people in worship. I know what most of you are thinking, You call that church? Well I might not but to the hundreds of people there they definitely would! And I'm sure God is satisfied with that as much as he is with our time together as well. Well after a sad but encouraging goodbye with Dr. Jember we loaded up and headed to the airport, besides a flat tire (Pastor Gordon's car) we had an uneventful journey and have landed in Nairobi, Kenya! Tomorrow we visit the slum of Geberra (largest slum in the world) 1million and a half people living in extreme poverty. We will be visiting Patoea and churches who have moved into the slum to serve, live with, and love on their neighbors! I am humbled and excited about the opportunity. Til next time, Pastah J

New Life in the middle of Death

Posted by Canaan Community Church on June 22, 2012 at 8:10 PM Comments comments ()

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil for thou art with me... Psalm 23:4

Today we participated in a conference being held at the Instiute for Urban Workers called the United Church for Urban Concern Conference. The focus of the conference was homelessness in Addis and how the church could come together to alleviate the issue. 

Once the conference was over we took a bus to visit the new site of IHA/UDP's first homeless shelter which was donated to them by Holy Trinity Orthodox Church a very prestigious church right next door to The Congressional buildings here in Addis.

What I didn't expect was that the building would be the tomb of of former Empress Zewditu and would be in the center of an ancient cemetery behind the church filled with mosoleums, above ground tombs and grave sites. Stranger still, as we walked through the cemetery the doors of the tombs began to crack open and eyes began to peer out at us. At this point I was ready to go the other way! Then I realized that people were living in the tombs, the church was obviously allowing the homeless to use the tombs as shelter. At that moment I realized the homeless shelter was not an isolated building in the middle of a cemetery but a beacon of hope in a community of the forgotten! God was giving hope and life in a place where you would expect to only find death!

I encourage you back at home with these words as we walk through the valley in our city: the valley of violence, the valley of educational turmoil, the valley of economic struggle, the valley of joblessness and hopelessness. I remind you that even in the valley... GOD is with us!

Today we also visited HIDA a ministry serving children with HIV/AIDS providing nutritious meals, health care and education for these highly vulnerable children. A nurse by the name of Tibebo Maco started it 10 years ago and has served more than 15,000 children and recieved 6 international awards for her work! Proof again that all God needs is your ordinary and he'll put it with his extra and make the extraordinary happen. 

Lastly, I asked myself, as we were leaving Holy Trinity, if I would be able to live in an old tomb and I am still not sure if I could? But I imagine as the torrential rains of the rainy season here in Ethiopia began to barrel down on me I would look for the first bit of shelter I could find. Just the same, there are so many who when facing the storms of life just look for the first bit of shelter they can find, whether drugs, sex, gangs, money or power. As Christians we have access to the true shelter and have to be willing to be with people in their various temporary shelters until we can show them what true shelter looks like. We must preach new life even in the middle of death!

He that dwells in ths shelter of the Most High, shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. Psalm 91:1

From the valley ,

Pastah J

Blessed are the poor...

Posted by Canaan Community Church on June 21, 2012 at 2:30 PM Comments comments ()

Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied.  Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.  Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn my name as evil, on account of the Son of Man!  Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven: for so their fathers did to the prophets. Luke 6:20-2Today we had the awesome privilege to travel and see some of the housing developments and community centers Dr.Jember and IHA/UDP have done here in Addis.  As I stated yesterday they have done over 4,000 units of housing and also have a school for training urban workers called Instutute for Urban Workers (IWU).

Having the opportunity to visit the wonderful people who live in the slums was absolutely incredible! I was so prepared to be heartbroken by the extreme poverty and inhumane conditions that I was almost amazed by the actual experience.  It was wonderful! The we're so happy to see us and treated us with such respect, admiration and love. Now don't get me wrong the conditions were horrific in these slums. I can't really even describe to you what I saw, heard, felt or smelled but they are all things I will never forget. 

IHA/UDP is built new housing for the poorest citizens of Addis who are completely ignored by the government and would be completely left out of any economic development plan.  They have built housing made of concrete and brick equipped with kitchen, bathroom and communal laundry area! They truly are. Kern day heroes to the people of the slums and although this seems like wonderful work we all know there is always a catch. In order to build these homes Dr. Jember has to allow the Ethiopian government to retain ownership of the buildings, including their youth centers and health centers.  Well what happens if the government decides they need a building for some other purpose, yup you guessed it they just take her buildings. Which they have done repeatedly, today we saw a youth center that had been thriving left with broken windows, locked library (with books still inside) and destroyed basketball court.  Sadder than the fact it was taken is the fact that it's not even being used! Pray that she continues to work despite the unreasonable and unimaginable setback of having her buildings taken by the government for no reason!

Lastly, I had a wonderful moment today with a young boy named Abay Kari Yu whose home we visited today. His Mom lives in one of the new condominiums Jember just built in the slums.He showed me his sketchbook of drawings and although neither one of us could really understand each other the language of art bridged that gap. After admiring hisdrawings for a while, I explained to him that I was an art teacher. He ran to the bed, grabbed a piece of artwork (a paper weaving) and told me I could have it. It was a great moment and if you want to see a pic of me and Abay check out my twitter account @ Pastahj

Welcome to Ethiopia

Posted by Canaan Community Church on June 20, 2012 at 11:45 PM Comments comments ()

I made it to Ethiopia safely!  I am in Addis, Ababa the capital of Ethiopia and the nerve center for all of Africa.  Ethiopia is the ONLY African country that was never colonized!  Ethiopians are very proud of their heritage and that they can truly hold on to the fact that they stood up for their independence. 

Ethiopia is most know for it's last emperor Hali Salasi who is well known for being worshipped by the Rastafarian Movement of Jamaica.  Although he never claimed to be divine, because he called himself the King of kings ( which was in terms of ruling over the many rulers of Ethiopia) Rastafarians believe he is a reincarnation of Christ.

Well today when I got off the13 hour plane flight in Ethiopia, as strange as things were, there we're still some very familiar sites as well.  Panhandlers looking for handouts, hustlers looking to shine your shoes, wash your windows or carry your bags, and even the infamous Bootleg DVD man made a cameo! If there is one thing I have noticed immediately it's that although poverty may look different in different places, the human spirit to survive is the same everywhere

A good paying job in Ethiopia (where you are above the poverty line) is about 400 Birr a month, which is about $20. we waste that on one large pizza! Today I am already getting lessons in what it means to truly love your neighbor as yourself and I see in a harsh way here that handouts will not change anyone's position, they just breed generations of beggars. Although they may be necessary in emergencies, loving people and really being involved in their lives is the best option.  Of course just giving someone a dollar and patting ourselves on the back is easier, but walking with someone and affirming their own dignity and potential for greatness is far more necessary.

Tomorrow we take a tour of some Community Development work in Addis, done by Dr. Jember Tefera and her organization Holistic Integrated Approach (IHA) who have done over 4000 units of housing in the slums of Addis.

I'll post pics on Twitter @Pastahj also, this is done on my iPad so forgive any typos! Talk to you soon...

Sharing, showing and being shaped by love,

Pastah J