Wednesday, April 25, 2007


A Letter From Jackie Pullinger

I got this email today from my hero, Jackie Pullinger. She's our main keynote speaker for next year's NON-CON '08 ( and the author of "Chasing the Dragon" from Regal Books. She's a missionary to street children and drug addicts and prostitutes in Hong Kong.

Dear Keith,

Thank you for your email. Yes, I am still planning to join you next year. I will be in San Jose 14th - 17th September and Fesno 21st and 22nd September.

Here is some of our news.

I have a frequent dream. I mean it is really a dream. At least twice a month I dream of the Walled City. It is never quite like the Walled City was but similar, as the whole place looked like a parody of a film set. I always seem to be walking down yet more dark lanes and I'm always doing the same thing - looking for rooms or little apartments to rent. This is either for me to live in or for poor people to live in or some of our teams to live in to reach the poor or a place for people to meet in. My latest one was last night when I was in a very dark place and for the first time I was rather afraid it might be filled with cockroaches, but it was so dark, I wouldn't be able to see.

My fortieth anniversary and the musical dance production of Chasing the Dragon have stirred up many of these Walled City memories, so I did a count. Since I've been in Hong Kong I have personally lived in 29 different places and the last one is nearly 10 years so you can see how often I moved. We then did a count up of how many my friends and I have rented to help addicts get off drugs or rehabilitated families or send teams out in this country alone, we've counted up 159 and we may have forgotten a few.

The latest one is we need to move our factory. As you know we have up to 65 teenagers with us at any one time called 'GoGetters'. They are called non-engaged youth in Hong Kong. That means they have fallen out of the school system and no school will take them. They are considered delinquent, but have actually been neglected and certainly disparaged. They come to live with us and after a few days will all believe in Jesus and then they want to stay for a long time. When they have settled down, and have started to feel safe enough, we send them back to our own school programme, as the Hong Kong system has not helped them. Right now our lease is up and we cannot continue to rent that place, so we are looking for a new place, factory or warehouse. Pray that we'll find the one.

Tenders for the construction of the next phase of Shing Mun Springs should be going out in the next month or two. You know Government wheels move extremely slowly, but we desperately need more places for these teenagers to live in. We've got Probation Officers and Social Workers queuing up and as yet have not been able to take many girls.

Our India team set off last Thursday for Mumbai, where they'll start by learning Hindi and getting to know people and seeing what Jesus develops. Eventually we hope to have teams placed in the countries that go along the Opium Trail to China. On the China front we can't report any official news still, but unofficially there are some wonderful openings and stuff going on and lives being changed. So maybe we'll never be officially within the system but we are still hoping and praying.

This comes with much love


Tuesday, April 24, 2007


If you live in Orange County, California you're invited to join me and a few of the men from The Mission (our house church in Orange) tonight at 7pm for our first Men's Gathering. We're meeting at The Mustard Cafe in Orange, just south of the Orange Circle on Glassell. The plan is to meet every-other Tuesday together to encourage and pray for one another.

If you're curious about visiting our house church, this will be the place to come and get to know some of our leaders.

So far our Thursday night meetings have been consistently great and our Sunday morning services together have really started to grow quickly too. Soon we'll have to seriously discuss a second group...hmmm...

Can't wait to see what God does next!


Wednesday, April 18, 2007


By Matt Fiedler

With the income-tax return filing deadline quickly approaching, taxes are near the top of many Americans’ minds. Since the government collects taxes in order to finance public services, tax season is a good time to examine where the tax dollars go.

All told, the federal government spent a bit less than $2.7 trillion dollars in fiscal year 2006, representing about one-fifth of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) or slightly less than the historical average for the last three decades. [1] As shown in Figure 1, about three-fifths of federal expenditures went to three areas, each of which comprised about one-fifth of the budget:

Defense and security: In 2006, some 21 percent of the budget, or $557 billion, went to pay for defense, homeland security, and security-related international activities. While more than $100 billion went to support operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, the bulk of spending in this category reflects the underlying costs of the Department of Defense and other security-related services.

Social Security: Another 21 percent of the budget, or $549 billion, went to Social Security, which provided retirement benefits averaging $964 per month to 34 million retired workers (and dependents of retirees) in the last month of fiscal year 2006. Social Security also provided survivors’ benefits to 6.6 million surviving children and spouses of deceased workers and disability benefits to 8.5 million disabled workers


Sunday, April 15, 2007


By Keith Giles

A friend recently brought an article in the September 2002 issue of GQ magazine to my attention. (Also posted here on this blog, btw). The author, Walter Kirn, an unbeliever himself, wrote a blistering yet painfully honest article called “What Would Jesus Do?” that explored the little Christian ghetto that many of us live in. His morbid curiosity compelled him to explore this world that was almost exactly like the one he lived in, but without any substance. He described how he discovered product after product that essentially cloned the mainstream culture and leached it of sinfulness, and, as a byproduct, all relevance and meaning.

He noted, “What makes the stuff so half-assed, so thin, so weak and cumulatively so demoralizing … has nothing to do with faith. The problem is lack of faith. [The Christian subculture] is a bad Xerox of the mainstream, not a truly distinctive or separate achievement. Without the courage to lead, it numbly follows, picking up the major media’s scraps and gluing them back together with a cross on top.”

What would happen if, instead of trying to create our own sanitized version of the world, we simply set ourselves apart from it? I can’t help thinking that the most radical thing that a modern Christian could ever do is simply to act out the things that Jesus told us to do—things like loving our enemies, giving freely to anyone who asks us, forgiving everyone no matter what and being gracious with everyone around us would have a much more powerful impact on the culture than Christian breath mints ever could.

Isn’t it more important to be set apart from the culture and to be known by how we are “unlike” the world? I feel like its time for Christianity Version 0.0 to be launched. It’s time to make a difference by being different.

Ever wonder why Christianity isn’t taken very seriously in today’s society? Why “Christian” has become synonymous with “cheesy”? Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims seem to command much more respect from the average person than do Christians. Maybe it’s because Buddhists and Hindus don’t create their own little versions of the world we live in for their own benefit and consumption.

Our attempts to copy the culture, albeit in a sanitized version, have failed to impress the world. We have everything from Christian radio and television to Christian coffee and candy. We have the Dove Awards, the Christian version of The Grammy Awards. We have Christian music, a subculture that creates the same music, but with a “message.” We’ve become a faith that emulates rather than impacts.

We’ve tried so hard to show the world around us that “Christians can rock too” and that “Christians can be just as funny and cool” as they are … just a little more “holy.” The end result seems to be that the world sees no intrinsic difference between them and us, except maybe for the packaging and the lack of quality.

Where did we get this idea from? Certainly not from Jesus. Jesus was relevant to His culture. He spoke their language. He told stories that they could relate to in order to illustrate truth. He didn’t create a sanitized version of the popular culture. He didn’t instruct us to do so, either. If anything, Jesus created a movement that was intended to be counter to the culture, not a sanitized version of the same. He was more interested in creating a people that were known for all the ways they were different, not the ways they were the same as the world … only better.

Ask yourself something. Can you name the top five most effective, culturally relevant ministries to come out of the body of Christ in the last 10 years? You know, the one’s that have had a profound, lasting impact on the culture by modelling the character of Jesus?

No? For the life of me, I can’t either.

Time to create a version of Christianity that isn’t a version of anything at all. It’s time for Christianity version zero point zero.

Someone hit the reset button …
[Keith Giles is one of the world's greatest enigmas. Ruggedly handsome, and yet surprisingly gentle and compassionate with small animals, Keith actually has a very weak grasp of reality and often talks to himself in the bathroom mirror. He's currently writing two books about spiritual formation and missional life. He and his wife and two boys are on an adventure leading a house church called "The Mission" in Southern California.
NOTE: this article was written about two years ago, but I think it's worth repeating. BTW, I spoke to Walter Kirn soon after writing this and it turns out he does profess faith in Christ, but he wrote this when he was the fiction editor at GQ in order to provoke the Body of Christ to change its tune. I had always intended to interview Mr. Kirn, and he consented to one, but I never got around to doing so. Maybe one day..?

Love to hear your thoughts...

Thursday, April 12, 2007

of iron [poem]

"of iron"

of iron in my
blood on the ground
to the floor
and the smell
of death and the taste
of tears in my mouth
a screaming prayer
hope a glimmer
of light
beneath a door
locked with a chain
or iron in my heart
on my wrist
burning scars
of shame
deeper than I

by keith giles
*written for "Freedom Day '07"

Friday, April 06, 2007


CLOSE TO HOME by Keith Giles

I've recently become aware of a growing number of under-age prostitutes here on the streets of central Orange County. What alarmed me most was that I could find no Christian ministry that was currently addressing this need. No Church, no para-church organization, not even a secular non-profit, was trying to help these girls get off the streets.

I called one prominent Christian ministry and they told me they could only help a girl if she had a valid I.D., a social security card and was over 18 years of age. What if I find a girl on the streets who is sixteen and wants to get off the streets? Do I send her away? What if she is from China or Mexico or Thailand and she’s been brought here against her will? What then? There was no answer.

Another friend who works closely with the homeless here in Orange County told me that if I wanted to raise funds to care for these girls I couldn’t call them prostitutes. "Emphasize their homelessness, or call them single moms, or categorize your ministry as being to under-age addicts, but you'll find that Churches here will not give money to help prostitutes". That burned me.

At first I was greatly disturbed, even angry, that not a single Christian church or ministry would take the time to reach out to these girls and help them, or at least extend the compassion and love of Jesus to them. Isn't this exactly where Jesus, our Lord, would be if He were walking the streets of Orange County today? Then I realized that I did know about this problem and I was also unwilling to drop everything and make this my ministry. I am still left wondering what to do about this. Is it my personal calling to act on behalf of these girls? Am I only to raise awareness and challenge others here in Orange County to get involved? I still don't know.

I've often said that I am an activist. (Most recently in this week's [Subversive Underground] article "Immune" for instance).

For me, it's impossible to call yourself a follower of Jesus and become passive about injustice.

But I am only one person. I have a family I can barely provide for each month. I am pastoring a small house church and trying to love and serve the families on our street as an incarnational missionary. I have been serving a local motel where families live in poverty for over four years now. There are several individuals and families that I am committed to serving and helping and loving into the Kingdom of God already. How could I possibly add a ministry to prostitutes to my schedule? This is not a part-time, weekend ministry. This would consume my life and monopolize every hour of the day.

What I do know is that a significant part of my personal calling is to write about what I see and experience and learn. There's no doubt in my mind about that. At the same time, I constantly feel a tension between being a writer who spurs others on to action and being a practitioner of compassion and justice myself. I never want to be someone who writes about issues but never gets involved.

Maybe that's why this issue concerns me so much. I feel a strong compulsion to speak out and raise awareness on the issue of teenage prostitution on Harbor blvd, but I know that I personally can't do very much to go out and minister to them myself on a daily basis.

I took a small team out to the streets of Santa Ana twice last year to try to get to know these girls and share the love of Jesus with them. It was a drop in the bucket and required a large level of committment from all of us.

For now I continue to pray and ask the Lord to show me what He is calling me to do about this.

How do I reconcile my calling to love others with my calling to pastor this house church and be a good father to my children?

This is my challenge. I cannot let this go.

More later...

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

What counts for eternity?

"What counts for eternity?
Only that good which is done for the love of doing it.
Only those plans in which the welfare of others is the master thought.
Only those labors in which the sacrifice is greater than the reward.
Only those gifts in which the giver forgets himself"
-Henry Van Dyke