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The Spirit of the One Percent

For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. – Ephesians 6:12

Who is the One Percent, anyway? A recent article in the Washington Post sought to answer that question – not merely with statistics, but through interviews with DC-area folks who fall within the top 1% of the income range. In Washington, DC it takes an annual household income of $617,000 to qualify. With the charged debate taking place about income inequality and corporate power, the Post reports that, “Some local millionaires… feel unfairly targeted.” One wealthy individual characterized the Occupy movement as being, “one class of people driving another class of people against them… That’s the most anti-American thing you can do.”

I do not really know what qualifies as “American” or “anti-American,” nor am I sure that it matters. However, I do think it is worth asking another question: How does the langauge of 99% and 1% relate to our faith as followers of Jesus?

Does the language of 99% and 1% dehumanize the super-wealthy? It certainly seems to have that potential. During my involvement in the Occupy movement, I have heard people say hateful things about other groups of people – whether it be police, politicians or the One Percent. These expressions of hate and dismissal – treating others as irredeemable objects of frustration – are clearly out of line with my Christian faith. Jesus laid down his own life for those who hated and oppressed him, and as a disciple of Jesus Christ, I am called to pray for those who persecute me.

At the same time, Jesus stood up against the predatory lenders of his day. He called out the abusive religious elites who lorded their status over others and took advantage of the poor. Jesus loved everyone he met – and he forgave those who were ready to receive forgiveness – but he did not give a free pass to those who neglected their responsibility to care for the needs of the poor. The truth is, those who had the most consistently rejected Jesus.

And yet, our struggle is not against the particular individuals that make up the wealthiest 1% of the United States. Demonizing other human beings and directing our anger at them does not address the underlying issues at work. Our fight is not with human beings, but with the dark forces that keep us all enmeshed in a system that develops our most twisted and selfish inclinations. Rather than choosing to hate the “one-percenters,” we must recognize that the spirit of the One Percent is alive within all of us.

Much of the economic elite does not believe that they are that well-off.  Many interviewed by the Post, “were quick to point out that, in an area with the country’s eighth-highest cost of living, they didn’t have as much left over for luxuries as those in the 99 percent might imagine.” One family described their lives as “typical, stereotypical… very normal, upper-middle-class…” Another interviewee said, “Once you pay for a house, a car and child care, it’s not that much money. … [We] feel like regular middle class people.” There are many, it seems, who are leading “very normal” lives in their “very normal” million-dollar homes.

When I read these interviews, I can barely contain my anger. How can they not see their own privilege? Do they not realize that most people in DC live on a tiny fraction of what they do? If their salaries feel like “not that much,” imagine what the rest of us feel like in this economy! It is easy for me to feel infuriated at these clueless rich folks. Until I realize: I am just like them.

My wife and I share a personal automobile. We own a house with running water, electricity, heating and air. We have internet access in our home, and we never go hungry. We have both been nurtured by relatively stable families, and we have never experienced the threat of war. Still, with our combined income, we often feel like we are just barely scraping by. DC is indeed a very expensive place to live. And yet, especially by national standards, we are in a better financial situation than many.

And then I think of my trip to East Africa last summer. I think of the material deprivation of rural Kenya. I remember the dirt floors. I recall that most meals there are simply ugali (sort of like grits) and greens – you are lucky to get protein once a day. I think about how between the members of my nuclear family we probably own more books than the library of Friends Theological College, the premier Quaker seminary in East Africa.

One of those interviewed by the Washington Post said that he already drives a Jaguar, but he does not consider that a sign of true wealth. His dream is to be able to, “drive by the Ferrari store and say, ‘I want that red one,’ and just buy it.” When I first read this, the man’s lack of perspective simply blew me away. How could he not see the obscenity of his greed?

But then, he became a mirror. How many times have I said to myself, “I wish I did not have to worry about money.” Me, with my house and a personal automobile. Me, with clean water to drink and a refrigerator full of food. Me, with access to good hospitals and skilled surgeons. Me, a citizen of the wealthiest empire the world has ever known. How silly is that? I worry about money.

I believe in the struggle for economic justice and grassroots democracy represented by the Occupy movement. I believe that the corruption of the wealthiest elites must be exposed and challenged. I believe that the poor and middle classes  – the 99% – must join together to push for a moral economy. Yet, I also recognize that our problems run far deeper than the personal failings of the economic elite. We are all caught up together in this culture of self-centered greed.

How can we take responsibility for our own participation in a culture that worships money and cultivates fear of deprivation? How can we root ourselves in the Spirit that frees us from greed and pride, hunger and fear? As we work together to forge a moral economy rooted in our faith as friends of Jesus, can we confess our own need for changed hearts and lives?

Who’s Afraid of Prayer?

One thing I noticed while traveling among Quakers in Kenya and Rwanda was how frequently Friends there prayed. There were prayers of thanksgiving when we arrived to be with a group of Friends. We prayed before sharing meals. There wereEtienne and John in Kigali, Rwanda songs and worship services awaiting us most places we went, and Friends often offered prayers of blessing as we went on our way.

I will be honest in saying that the prayer did not always feel alive to me. Sometimes, it felt as though Friends were just saying words. At worst, there were times when so-called “prayers” turned into short sermons on one subject or another. There was a lot of preaching and praising. I confess that at times I longed for the silent, receptive prayer that allows for God’s Spirit to come and fill us, providing the words for vocal prayer.

But we did pray. On a regular basis while visiting Friends in Kenya and Rwanda, God was explicitly invited into our midst. We affirmed our love for and trust in Jesus Christ. We addressed the Spirit and called upon it for guidance. When we were together with our African Friends Dancing and Singing at Village Meeting near Gisenyi, Rwanda Yearly Meetingbrothers and sisters, we verbally acknowledged Jesus Christ as an actor, a participant in our conversation, a patient and loving guide to our deliberations.

This level of explicit acknowledgement of God’s role in our life together stood in stark contrast to the way that I have experienced most of my communities in the United States. While perhaps some East African Friends are a bit too eager to fill the silence with words, my experience is that the temptation for many Friends in the United States is to neglect acknowledging God’s presence altogether.

In many of my North American communities, our prayers tend to be based in silent waiting. Vocal prayer emerges, if it does so at all, out of the silence. When it does, there is a sense that the Holy Spirit is actually praying in us and through us. Prayers that emerge this way often feel genuinely Spirit-led, in-breathed and directed by Jesus Christ within us and among us as a community. At its best, Jim Higginbotham, Steve Angell at Friends Theological College, Kaimosi, Kenyathis type of prayer expresses the heart of the silent prayer that we are all sharing as a community. It expresses the sense of the Meeting towards God.

Yet, while I often experience prayers based in silence to be deep and Spirit-led, there are drawbacks to this form of prayer. One disadvantage is that it can be compartmentalized. Because there is not always vocal prayer offered – perhaps not even a majority of the time – it is easy for silent prayer to become individualized prayer.

Without anyone vocally expressing the sense of the gathered group, it becomes easier for us to conceive of our prayer as being many individual prayers offered up to the Lord, rather than being the gathered prayer of the entire group. This problem becomes most apparent in groups where prayer at meals is left to personal initiative. Frequently in Quaker (and other Christian) gatherings and events, prayer takes the form of each
ESR Faculty at Friends Meeting House, Kigali, Rwanda Yearly Meeting individual (or sometimes small groups at one end of a table) taking time out to pray silently.

Clearly, this is better than no prayer at all, but the corporate aspect is lost. In extreme cases, silent prayer can degenerate into “moments of silence.” Rather than being an opportunity for expressing thanksgiving to our Creator, the silence becomes merely a time of meditation, reflection, or “centering down.” Vocal prayer would seem inappropriate, emerging from such a moment of silence.

Why is corporate prayer so hard for us? I have a few ideas:

  • Prayer means making ourselves vulnerable. While some of us are getting used to the idea of being vulnerable before God, making ourselves vulnerable with other human beings feels like an even bigger challenge. What changes need to occur in our Christian communities so that we can feel safe enough to open our hearts to one another, exposing our most tender selves in the presence of God and our brothers and sisters?
  • We often perceive prayer as being personal, and potentially offensive. Many of us – regardless of our theological orientation – have bought into the idea that religion is a private matter. While silent prayer – especially in its individualized varieties – does not step on the religious toes of others, vocal prayer presents a greater challenge. When we offer vocal prayer, we may say words that do not fit with the beliefs of every individual present. Someone might get upset. How can we as Christian communities – and as Christians living in a non-Christian society – open a space for genuine, corporate vocal prayer?
  • We fear looking foolish. Let’s face it: Prayer can be pretty silly. The prayers that we offer to God are essentially love-talk, the simple words of children to our Heavenly Father. We do not like feeling like children – especially not in the presence of other adults! How can we become humble enough, as individuals and as a community, to be little children in the presence of God and of one another?

Are there other reasons that genuine, unguarded prayer is so tough for us? What can we do as Christian communities to break out of our fear of looking silly, offending others and making ourselves vulnerable? What stands between our present condition and a life of child-like trust expressed in unfeigned love and simple prayer?

Encountering the Face of Christ in Africa – Micah’s Ministry Newsletter #32

Dear Children of Light,

Air travel is an amazing thing, and it took me only about forty-eight hours to get from Gisenyi, Rwanda back to my home in Washington, DC. The ride from Gisenyi to Kigali, and the flightsKisumu Airport from Kigali to Nairobi to London to Washington were very tiring, however. By the time I arrived home on Sunday afternoon, I was ready to sleep for a week. Nevertheless, in the couple of days since I have been home, I have been trying to maintain a regular schedule so as to re-adjust to the US Eastern time zone.

As I sit down to write this letter, I am still loopy from jetlag. I am also feeling rather intimidated at the prospect of encapsulating this month’s experiences into a brief missive. So much has happened in the last three weeks. I hope you will forgive me for being a little longer than usual.

It started in England. On 10 June, I arrived in London and spent the night with Friends in Greenwich. I stayed with Simon Watson and his family. I was grateful for the generosity of their hospitality, as they were kind enough to host me for several nights during my trip. I sense that my visit was encouraging for Simon, and I was gratefulRipley Friends for the time that we were able to share together.

The next day, I took the train up to Derbyshire (the English pronounce it “darby-sheer”) and visited Friends connected with the Ripley Quaker Meeting, which meets weekly at a local community center. It was a blessing to be with these faithful Friends. I had connected with many of them already through Facebook and Skype, but it was a real gift to spend time in the home of the Lomax family, and to see them face-to-face for the first time. On Sunday morning, we had a favored meeting for worship, with the power of the Lord Jesus being felt clearly in our midst.

This is the way I would describe the whole of my time in England: covered with a profound sense of the presence and power of Jesus Christ. I had many doubts about taking this trip, primarily due to concerns about the ecological damage caused by air travel. Nevertheless, I could not deny the way the Lord’s hand was
QYPers and John Punshon at Friends Library in London present in my visits among Friends in the UK. Where the Lord sends his servants, he makes the rocky paths smooth and the way straight!

While in England, I was able to link up with the two British leaders from last Year’s Quaker Youth Pilgrimage, as well as several of the pilgrims who live in the London area. It was great to catch up with these Friends and see them in their “natural habitat.” I was also able to visit Ben Gosling – another affiliate of Rockingham Meeting – and his wife Libertad at their home in Lavenham (in Suffolk). It was lovely to spend time with these Friends, and to get a tour of the historic village they live in, which preserves many buildings from the medieval period.

Overall, I believe that my travels in the United Kingdom were a blessing, both to me and to those whom I was able to visit. For my own part, I feel better informed about the situation that our affiliates in England are facing at this time. The last years have been very hard for the community of Conservative Friends in the UK, and I feel great sympathy for them as they struggle to be faithful in trying circumstances. More than sympathy, I feel conviction that I must examine how God might be calling me to lend support and encouragement to British Conservative Quakers. I sense that this may be a question that Friends in my Monthly, Quarterly and Yearly Meeting may wish to continue to consider together.

Feeling very blessed by the opportunities the Lord had opened for me in England, I took my leave of British Friends to continue on to Africa. Earlham School of Religion, where I work as Coordinator of Young Adult Engagement, was holding a faculty retreat in Kenya and Rwanda. As member of the administrative faculty, I was invited to participate. In addition to the opportunity to spend more time with my colleagues at ESR, I was grateful for the chance to become acquainted with Friends in East Africa. Kenya is home to the largest population of Friends in the world, and I was excited to learn more Lionabout the breadth and diversity of cultural expressions that exist in the modern-day Friends Church.

The first few days of the trip were not business-like at all. We flew into Nairobi and, after a night at the Mennonite Guest House, rode down to the Masai Mara game reserve to spend a couple of days on safari. The safari was a good way to begin the trip, and it was impressive to observe in their native habitat so many animals that I had only ever seen in zoos. Lions, cheetahs, elephants, hippos, and many other species were present in abundance. I took lots of pictures.

As fun as all this was, my own personal priority was to connect with the people of East Africa – especially Quakers. I was elated when we flew out to Kisumu (Western Kenya) and began to visit Friends there. They were not hard to find. In Western Kenya, Quakers are the largest single denomination and ESR Visits Kaimosi Hospitalhave a larger membership than all the Yearly Meetings in North America put together. It was quite an experience to be in a place where the Quaker Church is normative.

While in the area, we visited several important locations. We were able to see the famous Kaimosi Hospital, which I had been hearing about for years as a member of the Friends United Meeting General Board. We also spent several days at Friends Theological College, which is the single most important center of theological education for Friends in East Africa. I greatly enjoyed my time at the school and would like to return some day, as the Lord permits. I was particularly impacted by a visit the house where the first Friends missionaries to Kenya came and began preaching the gospel in 1902. It was amazing and inspiring to stand in the historical epicenter of African Quakerism.

When we had completed our visits in Western Kenya, we flew to Kigali, Rwanda. Rwanda surprised me with how different it felt from Kenya. In Kenya, there were unavoidable signs of intense poverty everywhere; in Rwanda, however, it was a little bit less obvious. The city of Kigali, in particular, felt very developed. Clean, orderly, and apparently relatively prosperous, Rwanda’s capital felt similar in Genocide Memorial, Kigali, Rwandamany ways to what I had experienced in the urban areas of Mexico (which is quite a developed country by world standards).

During the week we spent in Rwanda, however, I began to learn about the dark side of Rwanda’s apparent prosperity. When I started asking prying questions about the government, I learned that all is not as idyllic as is immediately apparent. One citizen informed me that she felt afraid to make any statement about the government that might be considered negative. However, because we were not in the company of other Rwandans, she helped explain why things look so nice in the cities and along the major roads in the countryside.

Apparently, the Rwandan government requires that buildings be made in a certain style using certain materials. Tile roofs, brick and cement walls – solid, high-quality construction. Expensive construction. I learned that apparently the government not only requires this for new construction, but also has an active program that requires homeowners to upgrade their houses to the new code, especially if their homes are along major thoroughfares that might be seen by tourists. I was told that those who are unable to upgrade their houses to meet government criteria are evicted and have their land confiscated (frequently without any compensation). Jay and EmanuelThe properties are re-sold to those who can afford to improve the land.

The strong hand of the Rwandan government is felt in the life of the Church, as well. Rwanda Yearly Meeting is perhaps the only Friends body in the world that requires water baptism for membership. They do this because the central government will not recognize (or, it seems, tolerate) any church that does not meet certain criteria. One of those criteria is performing water baptism. As an outsider, and a very uninformed one at that, it would have felt wrong to criticize the Friends Church in Rwanda for ceding Friends testimony on this point. However, it is clear that religious freedom is limited in Rwanda in ways that I find difficult to accept.

Our time with the brothers and sisters in Rwanda Yearly Meeting was lovely. They are an amazing group of Friends, who in only a couple of decades have developed a network of sixty churches across Rwanda, as well as an impressive system of schools and programs to give relief to widows and orphans. We were blessed and humbled by Friends’ warm hospitality to us. Despite Rwanda’s apparent national wealth in comparison to Kenya, it is clear that the common people of Rwanda still live in extreme poverty by most standards. In spite of this, we were welcomed with open arms and treated to lavish hospitality. It was a humbling Friends Meeting House in Rural Rwanda (near Gisenyi)experience to see Friends in Rwanda minister to us out of their material poverty.

By the end of this trip, I was coming to see that it was I who was impoverished. I have had the luxury of so many material and educational advantages by virtue of my family of birth and country of origin. I live at a standard that would be almost unbelievable to most people in East Africa. And yet, I see that I and the society that I live in are poor in the things that matter most. I see more clearly than ever that my own spiritual condition has been that of the church at Laodicea, of which Jesus said, “…you say ‘I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing.’ You do not realize that you are wretched, pitiable, poor blind and naked.”(1)

Guilty as charged. I pray for God’s mercy, knowing that I have lived so long in material comfort and luxury that I have become blinded to the needs of the poor, marginalized and oppressed. Living in urban North America, it is hard to conceive of what material wealth truly is. Material wealth is having running water and electricity. It is having an educational system that is available to all. It is eating protein every day and having access to a variety of foods. Being rich is owning a cookbook and being able to purchase the ingredients forRural Village Meeting Near Gisenyi, Rwanda any recipe. I have often failed to realize what amazing blessings these truly are. These are things that should not be taken for granted.

I have also seen more clearly what spiritual wealth is. Spiritual wealth is cooking up the best food that you have – even if it is just feed corn, casava bread, rice and beans – and serving it to guests who have traveled from far away to see you. It is only the spiritually wealthy who can show true love by giving generously, wrecklessly – not out of their own abundance, but out of poverty. True, spiritual wealth is welcoming guests, caring for orphans and widows, and seeing that the next generation gets a decent education.

On this trip, I saw the face of Jesus Christ in his Church. I saw the way that our brothers and sisters in East Africa love the Lord, not just through words and easy gestures, but through self-sacrifice Etienneand hospitality that costs something. I saw the radiant joy that comes from holding nothing back, from acknowledging that life is a gift from God that we can never own, only hold in trust.

I have seen so much in the past weeks that has convicted me of my own spiritual shallowness and of the failure of the North American Church to take seriously Christ’s call to take up the cross. I am still processing these experiences. I am unsure of where this all leads. One thing is for certain: I am a lot less far along in my walk with the Lord than I would prefer to imagine.

Yet, I also feel a great sense of hope. Among Friends in East Africa, I have seen that the yoke of our Lord Jesus is truly easy, his burden light. If only we here in the North American Church would surrender our own privilege and sense of control, we could share in the easy burden of Jesus. I see more clearly now that I must lay down the burden of control, of self-protection, and of “having David Johns with Childrenenough.” I want to follow Jesus, and now more than ever I see that I cannot serve two masters.

Clearly, though this letter has been much longer than usual, there is a lot left to process. I do suspect that I will do a lot of this processing in the coming weeks on my blog, The Lamb’s War. I encourage you to subscribe to my blog if you have not already, or just check in from time to time. These experiences will definitely take some time to sort through, and I would welcome your accompaniment on this journey.

Thank you so much for all your prayers as I have been traveling. I have felt safe in my journeys, knowing that the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ watches over me and has a plan for my life. I am unutterably grateful for the way God has provided for me thus far, and for the way God continues to teach and guide me. I pray that each of you may experience this same blessing.

Blessings and peace to you in the Lord Jesus,

Micah Bales

1. Revelation 3:17

The Spirit is Moving!–Micah’s Ministry Newsletter #31

Dear Friends of Truth,

This month has been one of optimism for me and Friends on Capitol Hill, as we prepare for a busy summer. For some years now, summer has been a time of intense travel, visitation among different Friends bodies, changes in routine, and transitions in lifestyle. Above all, summer for me has been about cross-pollination, coming into contact with a wide variety of people, places and cultures. Summer is a special time to learn about how Christ is at work across the country and even the world.

This summer looks to be no different. Travels have already begun with a visit to the annual sessions of Great Plains Yearly Meeting. About a week and a half ago, Faith and I took Amtrak out to Wichita, Kansas. It was a blessing to spend a few days with my family in Wichita. I was also pleased to spend some time with area Friends. We visited Heartland Friends Meeting, where I was a member until I transferred to Rockingham last October. Faith and I were pleased to spend some time catching up with Charity Sandstrom, who gives pastoral leadership to Emporia Friends Church, as well as her husband Richard. We also got the chance to Great Plains Yearly Meeting 2011participate in a small gathering of Friends from both Heartland and University Friends Meeting. I was encouraged by the evidence of the Holy Spirit’s work among Friends in Kansas. I am left with a concern to be in prayer for their continued faithfulness and growth in the Lord.

After these days in Wichita, we caught a ride down to Osage County, Oklahoma, where Hominy Friends Meeting was hosting the 104th annual sessions of Great Plains Yearly Meeting. This gathering of Friends from across Kansas, Nebraska and Oklahoma was a rich time of learning, business, worship and prayer. I perceived two main threads that ran through the weekend. The first was based in our theme from John 4:14, “streams of living water.” Throughout the sessions, we were reminded that Jesus offers us spiritual sustenance, refreshment and healing for our souls. If we are willing to open ourselves to his life-giving power and love, he will fill us with his Spirit and show us how to be his people together.

The other theme that ran through out time together was that of the relationship between European-descended Friends and Native Americans. This felt especially relevant to us, as two of the five Yearly Meetings in Great Plains are predominantly Native American. For Great Plains to understand its own identity, Friends there must grapple with the relationship between Indian language, culture and identity, and what it means to be a Christian in the Friends tradition. We were repeatedly reminded that Christianity and Native American cultures are no more incompatible than Christianity and European cultures. Friends on the Great Plains continue to explore what it means to be empowered to Arbiter of the Osage Hand Gamelive fully into our historical, cultural and ethnic identities, while at the same time being united with others through our shared trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. (I explore this topic further on a recent blog post for Earlham School of Religion’s Learning and Leading.)

It was truly a blessing for me to see the way that the Holy Spirit is raising up fresh leadership in Great Plains Yearly Meeting. GPYM is clearly stronger than it was only a few years ago. Laura Dungan, who began her second year as presiding clerk of the Yearly Meeting, is one instrument that the Lord is using in the spiritual renewal of Friends in Great Plains. Through her prayerful, daring and disciplined guidance, GPYM is growing in its ability to listen deeply to the Spirit and ground its decision-making process in prayer. The business sessions this year were of a particularly worshipful character. We took time in worship before, during and after our business sessions. It should come as no surprise that business got done faster than anticipated. As Friends laid their concerns at Jesus’ feet in the silence, it was easier to determine what was truly important and what was human chatter.

Great Plains Yearly Meeting is growing. The spiritual stature of the Yearly Meeting has enlarged dramatically in just a few short cycles. GPYM is demonstrating vision, planning to host a clerking and leadership conference in Wichita, November 4-5, 2011. GPYM is demonstrating renewed leadership, with energetic engagement emerging in Dean and Laura, DiscerningHominy, Wichita and central Nebraska. Only time can tell how Friends will respond to this fresh blowing of the Holy Spirit, but this could be the beginning of an entirely new chapter in the history of Friends on the Great Plains.

I feel it important to bear witness to the fact that God is the one who is effecting this change in Great Plains Yearly Meeting. The Holy Spirit is raising up new leaders and granting new strength and vision to seasoned leadership. Jesus Christ is clearly present in the midst of his people, teaching and guiding them. I give thanks to our Lord and Father for the ways I see God moving in GPYM.

Faith and I got back to DC yesterday, but I am due to leave again shortly. On Thursday, I will be traveling to the United Kingdom to visit Friends there. I will be visiting some of the scattered Conservative Friends in the UK, as well as catching up with some of those who were with me on the 2010 Quaker Youth Pilgrimage. Even now, I still do not have all of the details of this trip ironed out. I am flying by the seat of my pants, but I pray that the Fellowship at Great Plains Yearly Meeting 2011Lord will guide my steps and place me where I am most needed.
After about a week in England, I will be continuing on to Kenya and Rwanda. The faculty of Earlham School of Religion is taking a trip to sites in Western Kenya and Kigali, and as a member of the administrative faculty of the school, I have been invited to participate.

Having never been to Africa, I am at once intrigued and intimidated. I do not know what to expect from this trip, but I am sure that I will be in good hands among Friends. I pray that the Lord will use this trip to tender my heart to the life of the Church in East Africa, and to deepen my understanding of the Religious Society of Friends in this part of the world.

It is hard to believe that I will be out of the country for almost a month. I have not even flown in an airplane in a year and a half. This has been intentional. I have felt and do feel a concern of the Lord to take veryHominy Friends Meeting Room at Great Plains Yearly Meeting 2011 seriously the ecological costs of my lifestyle. Air travel is particularly damaging to God’s creation, and I am painfully aware of my personal role in the environmental destruction caused by the irresponsible use of fossil fuels. I pray that God will bless these travels in such a way that they will be worth the damage inflicted on the Creation.

Please hold me in prayer, dear Friends, as I travel among Friends abroad. Let me be a blessing to those whom I encounter, and let me receive with a grateful heart the blessings that our brothers and sisters across the seas have in store for me. Above all, grant it dear Lord that I be made humble and teachable!

In the love of Jesus Christ,

Micah Bales

Brief Video From Great Plains Yearly Meeting: