Global Links Sept 2020

Latest news and stories from Global Mission

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Hidden history: El obispo caminante

The Rev. Rafael Malpica Padilla, executive director of the ELCA’s Global Mission unit, is known as el obispo caminante (“the bishop who walks among us”), as the Lutheran church in Nicaragua dubbed him. In this story for Living Lutheran, Malpica Padilla’s son Felix Padilla reflects on three moments from his father’s ministry. “At 30, he was the youngest ELCA bishop and the first ELCA bishop of color — two facts that aren’t commonly acknowledged,” Felix Padilla wrote. Read the Living Lutheran story here.

News Around the World
News Around the World
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the ELCA has stepped up to meet needs in the United States and around the world. Lutheran Disaster Response has financially supported 49 efforts led by companion churches and organizations in 35 countries. “As a member of the Lutheran World Federation, it is important that we walk with our global companions,” said the Rev. Rafael Malpica Padilla, executive director of Global Mission. Read more in this Living Lutheran article.
Mission Personnel Reflection
Mission Personnel Reflection
Photo by Fiona Castle-Schmidt

By the Rev. Henry Martinez, YAGM Australia country coordinator

I saw the sign for the police checkpoint and knew I would have to pull over. Police in Australia set up checkpoints like this to administer breathalyzer tests fairly regularly. I rarely drove often enough to encounter them. All cars pull over, three at a time. Each driver is given a breathalyzer and, if clear, allowed to proceed. I hadn’t been drinking, so I wasn’t worried about that part. Still, all my Americanness bristled that they could do this without probable cause. But fear crept in too, adding another layer to the mix, probably because I’ve been stopped by police in both Australia and the United States in ways that were more selective. While out walking I have been stopped and searched by police who have told me I match a description of someone suspicious. As a person of color, I’m not surprised by this, but it’s still disheartening. People have tried to reassure me: “If you haven’t done anything wrong, you don’t have anything to worry about.”

A few weeks after this happened I was visiting one of the Young Adults in Global Mission (YAGM) volunteers in another part of Australia. He shared his experience as a passenger during one of these stops and was surprised that his Australian friend wasn’t troubled by them. Debriefing our experiences with his supervisor was a valuable cultural exchange. His supervisor confirmed that our reactions were probably different from those of most Australians (that is, most white Australians who have been largely spared police profiling). In Australia, a sense of public safety and accountability prevails to the extent that people don’t challenge breathalyzer checkpoints. And I get it: public safety is a fundamental good. It’s just that being policed is not experienced equally.

As the issue of policing hit fever pitch in the past few months I wondered about the church’s witness. If we care about the wholeness and well-being of our communities, should we not be attentive to the powers they experience? Being faithful to the gospel means holding inconsistent power accountable to justice.

A Global Service Update:
Please welcome our Young Adults in Global Mission short-term recruiters for this fall: Olivia Slagle, Kara Barkman, Jayme Kokkonen and Kendra Hernandez. These four recruiters will focus mainly on digital recruitment through online meetings, sermons, social media and more. Meet the YAGM short-term recruiters.

YAGM Country Program Fun Facts:
Follow Young Adults in Global Mission on Instagram to learn interesting facts about each country program. This month, YAGM is highlighting the Australia and United Kingdom country programs. Check out a couple facts below. See more in YAGM’s Instagram story highlights here.
  • YAGM United Kingdom is the longest-running country program, beginning at the inception of the YAGM program in 1999.
  • The furthest YAGM Australia volunteers have lived from one another is 3,200 kilometers (1,988 miles), the distance between Denver and Boston. The closest YAGM volunteers have lived is in the same apartment.
Get Involved
You can read and share the latest stories and news in the summer/fall 2020 edition of Global Mission Updates. This biannual collection highlights the ministries of our companions around the world and includes updates from AMMPARO, Peace Not Walls, Diakonia, Mission Formation, Global Service, the Companion Synod Program, International Leaders and the Lutheran Office for World Community. Read Global Mission Updates here.
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