Wednesday, July 4, 2012

To The Left Can Be Right

I don't know if you've noticed lately, but there is a bit of a revolution going on in the world of Believers who are not satisfied with what is being done today in the name of Christianity. It's a simmering stew of folks from all walks of life who are looking at this whole thing a little differently. And when I say simmering, I don't mean as about to boil into an angry mob, I mean simmering as in slow-cooking, great smells in the air all day, ready for a feast when it's ready-type simmering. It's a Love Stew and it's on the menu in cities big and small all over the country; a menu that does not say "we reserve the right to refuse service to everyone." Actually living the life of the Jesus we claim to follow is the main course and knowing we are walking His way is the dessert.

Way back in the late 60's, I was part of an amazing thing that moved across America. Hippies found Jesus and suddenly The Way of the Master was a cool thing and the Jesus Movement somehow made its way into even my little Southern Baptist church in Kenosha, Wisconsin. I was about 14-ish when I heard my first message by a groovy guy with hair long enough to give Moses a run for his manna...and being a girl who never in her life had the word cool attached to a sentence with her name in it...well I was hooked. Here was a way....One we groovy people called love me some Jesus and be accepted all in one fell swoop.

But a revolution, as this surely was, by definition means turning the people around to a whole new way of life and leaving the old behind. The Jesus Movement didn't go over so well with the old guard who wanted things to stay the same. We had a new American Revolution on the that took the words of Jesus seriously. ("The Red Letters are coming! The Red Letters are coming!") Some didn't like these young up-starts telling them how to love their neighbor. They knew perfectly well how to do long as neighbor was defined as someone who looked like you, talked like you and didn't rock the boat you had built.  They were not so big on melding a family out of just any old material. The Anointed Groovy Ones tried to show them a different way....a way of accepting all peoples and reaching out to the least of these...not just bringing things to the poor every Christmas, but asking the poor to join them every day of the year. The Elders (those Non-Melders) didn't want those words pointed out to all. They stuck to their preferred passages and ignored the ones about loving your neighbor and giving your coat to the cold. I think they were just a little more comfy with a God who was angry and cast people out...their kind of guy.

I see it happening again....this 21st century version of the Jesus Movement...complete with Jesus Freaks and enough Love to sink an Ark...and enough anger coming back at us to remind us that this Walk is not an easy one. That the anger is coming from fellow Christians is not surprising...disappointing...but not surprising. Guess it's hard to accept folks whose sin looks different from your sin.  I am old enough now to dig this new revolution in a way I couldn't at 14. This time I get the love-thing in a way that you can only get when you have spent your life looking out for with a capital I have done. Suddenly there is an answer to the dreariness that long ago took over your interior weather patterns because YOU have been the only cloud in the sky.  Love 'em like Jesus.  Just set out everyday to be kind to those who cross your path. To help someone when you have the means to help them. You can join us in our work on the Pine Ridge Reservation or you can serve up the meal of love and and caring right in your own neighborhood. Do for one person what you wish you could do for everyone and we could put an end to what so many fear....taking care of the poor. That would be the war on poverty...and it would be won in the trenches of compassion.

When books like "Crazy Love", "Under the Overpass," Radical" and "Irresistible Revolution" are bestsellers...then I'm feelin' the winds of change and I'm praying for a big ol' storm. When you see it coming....don't run for the basement. Stand on the roof and say "Here! Over Here!"  I for one am truly welcoming this revolution that is sick and tired of things being done in the name of Jesus that don't have anything to do with the life He gave us as an example. Love. He was all about the love. Mercy. Justice. Walk humbly with your God.

 I won't get it right all the time...but I will be doing something that matters with the days I have left.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Project Pine Ridge

A little over a week ago I returned to my home in Colorado after a 15-day stay at my other home...the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. This trip was an amazing one in so many ways. First of all we opened the LightShine Thrift Store at the south entrance to the Rez in Whiteclay, Nebraska. This 4000 sq. ft. store offers affordable (and in some cases free) clothing and home furnishings, as well as a distribution center for giving away food and diapers as they come to us. In the first 2 days of having our doors opened, we found homes for nearly every piece of furniture we had trucked in from Colorado (and we had a lot of it!). Furniture will remain our highest priority as the need for beds, couches, tables and housewares is huge on the reservation. It is essential that we get as many families squared away with beds, rugs and home repairs before the long South Dakota winter sets in. One grandmother said to me as we were loading dishes and pots and pans into her car...."Thank you for doing this." 

 LightShine gives the Lakota people a place to meet the needs of their families without a 50 mile trip to the closest Wal-Mart or a 90 mile trip to the closest city, Rapid City. This fact is a very big deal in a place where half the residents have no vehicles. Thanks to all of you who donated items for the store. We continue to round up art supplies, clothing, housewares....pretty much anything we can get out hands on. If you would like to help you can send items to KC Willis/Lightshine, PO Box 36, Whiteclay NE 69365. Northern Colorado friends can contact me about picking up donations or you can drop off at my home. Contact me at

Summer is an important part of the year for getting things done on the reservation. In large part due to the number of "work teams" that are present from AmeriCorps, as well as church and youth groups from all over the country. These young people come to work...and I have seen first hand how hard they work. They are dedicated to service and much is accomplished. We were able to open the Thrift Store 4 days after unloading the last U-Haul because of their amazing work ethic and diligence. It is a once-a-year chance to get major things done without the cost of labor, which to many of us working on the Rez is a very big deal.  When I return to Pine Ridge on July 25th, we will have at our disposal, several groups ready to work.

Here are pictures of one of the main projects we are determined to accomplish....repairing the home of the Pipe On Head family. Their home is one of the few stucco homesteads on Pine Ridge and was built several generations ago. It is a remote home and they have no place else to live. Lovely Pipe on Head is 3 years old and her little bare feet walk across floors that are literally rotting away. There is no running water and no working windows.  If you would like to personally play a part in seeing to it that we end the summer with this home ready for the winter, please check out the ways you can help listed below.

And last but not least....while I was away on the Rez, my friends and family here in northern Colorado brought enough donations of furniture, household items and clothing to fill yet another 26' U-Haul! I will be heading back to Pine Ridge in a little over 2 weeks and have no money at this moment to rent a truck. I am not a non-profit, but an individual...some use the word missionary...I prefer the word revolutionary :-) trying to make a difference in what is essentially a third-world country within our borders. Eventually we will acquire non-profit status. A 26' U-Haul with gas to Pine Ridge runs about $650.  Hopefully this will be the last time we will need the expense of a U-Haul. We were able to acquire a "box truck" a couple of months ago and your contributions will help finish the repairs on it, so it can be the vehicle I drive back and forth. I hope to drive it back from the Rez this trip!

My hope and prayer is that we can find 50 big hearts for Pine Ridge to donate $50 and we will be able to accomplish our immediate plans. Any amount would be awesome. Please help if you can.

Here are several really easy ways to help....
*Send a contribution through Paypal using "Send Money" to
*Call me with a credit card number (MC, VISA, Discover and AMX) to 719-510-3433
* Via check made out to KC Willis Ministries and mailed to LightShine, PO Box 36, Whiteclay, NE 69365 or PO Box 603, Longmont, CO 80502.
* Send a gift card for Wal-Mart, Home Depot or Loew's to me at the same address.
* Share this letter with your friends, family, art groups and church leaders.

I am available this fall to speak at your church or group and share the stories and images of these amazing people who live in the most beautiful and desperate place I have ever seen.

Thanks for believing that it does not have to stay this way....

KC Willis