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Apr 28th: Expanding Our Circle, with Rev. Dr. Steven Koski.

Posted: Sun, Apr 28, 2024
Expanding Our Circle with Rev. Dr. Steven Koski. Series: Ruckus for Good 2024 A Spacious Christianity, First Presbyterian Church of Bend, Oregon. Scripture: Matthew 6.25. Rev. Dr. Steven Koski shares stories of selflessness and partnership between First Presbyterian Church and African Road, highlighting the transformative power of identity recognition and community empowerment. We will also see an update from three villages in Burundi inhabited by the indigenous Batwa people. The partnership aims to empower the Batwa communities through friendship, legal identification, farming support, education, and healthcare.

A Part of the Series:

Rev. Dr. Steven Koski


Expanding Our Circle with Rev. Dr. Steven Koski. Series: Ruckus for Good 2024 A Spacious Christianity, First Presbyterian Church of Bend, Oregon. Scripture: Matthew 6.25.

Rev. Dr. Steven Koski shares stories of selflessness and partnership between First Presbyterian Church and African Road, highlighting the transformative power of identity recognition and community empowerment. We will also see an update from three villages in Burundi inhabited by the indigenous Batwa people. The partnership aims to empower the Batwa communities through friendship, legal identification, farming support, education, and healthcare.


One of life’s hard truths is that life is not about you. Psychologists suggest emotional intelligence is when you finally realize it’s not all about you. Spiritual wisdom is when you ask how can my life be used in service for the flourishing of others. The mission statement of First Presbyterian Church of band is living the spacious and radical love of Jesus so that all might flourish. Jesus said, All who are so focused, trying to save their lives, will lose their lives will lose any sense of meaning, purpose, and joy in life. But all who are willing to give their lives away in love, because of me, will find life life like they’ve never known before. We rise when we are lifting others, we flourish when we help others flourish. Life is good when we’re happy. Life is so much better when others are happy because of us. One of my all time favorite stories took place during the Special Olympics in Houston, Texas. It was the 100 meter dash. There were 12 runners at the starting line. And when the starting gun went off, Danny, who lives with Down syndrome started off like a rocket. And he was quickly way ahead of everyone else. And Danny was clearly going to win this race. He was having the time of his life. He was pumping his arms he was grinning from ear to ear. He was waving at his parents in the crowd. About 10 meters from the finish line. Danny’s feet got crossed, and he fell hard on the track is his knees and his elbows were bloodied tears were streaming down his face. And when the other runners reached Danny, they weren’t focused on just racing past Danny so that they might win. Without signaling each other. Were speaking to each other. They all stopped every single one. They picked Danny up, they hugged him. And they held hands. As all of the runners crossed the finish line together, side by side. Imagine for a moment how the world would change how our lives would change. If we live with the hearts and wisdom of those runners in the Special Olympics, imagine if we live by their rules. No one really wins until everyone wins. Imagine if life was not about winning and getting ahead. But instead it was more important to pick those up. We’ve been left behind those who fallen down whose knees are bloodied. Imagine if we understood that at a deep level, that we all belong to God and in belonging to God. We really belong to each other. As Dr. King would say, I cannot be fully who God intends me to be and tell you have a chance to be who God intends you to be. Imagine if we really understood in God’s family, there is no other. There is only us there is no me. There is only we we rise. By lifting others we flourish when we help others flourish. No one wins really until everyone wins. This is the spirit that led us at First Presbyterian Ben to to begin a partnership with African road and three Bagua villages in the country of Burundi. In East Africa. The poorest country in the world is Burundi. The Bagua are the indigenous people of Burundi. They they are they are the poorest of the poor and they’re oppressed within their own country. Now, we weren’t interested in short term mission work. We wanted to invest in a long term friendship. We wanted to avoid in any sense of standing above as if somehow we were superior. here. We wanted to stand with our boss, siblings, siblings, to stand with them in solidarity, to build relationships of trust and mutuality. You know, God doesn’t send us out to the margins and to those who are marginalized so that you know, we can make a difference. I truly believe God sends us out to the margins, to places like Burundi to build relationships with the bagua. So that we might become different, so that we might become changed by the relationships and friendships that are formed. I want to show a film about our partnership, it really highlights our partnership with three Bagua villages in Burundi. And it really shows what’s possible through the power of friendship.

Sound stories invite us to look beyond ourselves to remember that joy has no boundaries and cannot be stopped. Meet the batch of people who embody that spirit. A growing connection between one inspiring leader in Burundi a cycle of committed friends across the globe, the string of three villages and the experience of one young woman demonstrates what becomes possible when dreams are natural by the power of French. Let’s go to Burundi and see how beautiful the world can be. Mary was born in the country of Burundi. Her parents were indigenous people called Bathsheba. Mary’s parents had grown up in the rainforests leaving as hunters and gatherers until they were forced out with no place to go. They ended up on barren land, along with other bats were people who had been evicted from the forests. They were despised by others, and tragically, some were enslaved. They lacked skills for surviving outside the forest, but they chose to stay together. When Marie was born, she was an issuance of certificates. Because her parents had no legal identity. She could not attend school or even access medical care when sick. She grew up as though she was invisible. Her parents worked long, hard days and the neighbor’s fields. They were paid with a small portion of beans barely enough to feed Mary and her sisters. As soon as Marie was old enough, she joined her parents working for beings thought they had no legal identification, and they lived in poverty. Murray’s people never forgot who they were. They were the oldest people grew up in the region. They were the people who were artists using their hand to make pots out of earthen clay. And they were the pupil who knew how to dance like no other. Dancing kept them alive. They danced when a baby was born. And when someone they danced when they were hungry. And when the rains fell, they always danced when guests came to visit. So life went on with little hope of change. They never stopped dancing. When Mary was 17, she made Oscar, a busboy from a nearby village. They fell in love. Without government ID they could not legally marry but they chose each other and began their own family. They gathered branches and banana leaves and constructed the small heart like others in their hillsides village. In another parts of Burundi, a woman named Everest was growing up, Everest had a mama who refuse to be held back by the prejudice of others. She saw something unique in her son and she committed to fight for him. She gave her all to see every stand school he faced stigma and how she but he excelled. One year at a time, they found a way to keep Everest in school. With the help of conference and with a lot of hard work. He completed secondary school and went on to study Lao Everest became the second bachelor in the history of Burundi to graduate from university in 2010, ever he started his own organization to help other Botswana. Four years later, African role and nonprofit in Oregon come alongside Everest in friendship, to listen to learn and to begin working together. In 2015, Everest introduced friends of African rock to marry and the people of her village with these words, I have not brought you beans and rice, but I have brought you friends and refrains. Many things become possible. Marie did not know what to think when she heard the words of Everest. But then you friend listened to every word and understood their potential. They recognized so great need as well as the strength with Mary and help people. They’re returned to their community in Oregon with those stories and an urgent appeal for respect for assistance and committed partnership. In response, their community made a long term commitment to join African roll and Everest to learn and grow together in support of Marines village and two more nearby Botswana villages. The first of their efforts was funding to provide identity cards, birth certificates, legal marriage rights, access to education and medical care for each person in the villages. Every man and his team call this project ID kids now, Marie Oscar and their children had an identity recognized by the governments a chance to finally belong and exist within society. Now, they could access resources and opportunities that were previously unreachable. The next step was to address extreme hunger and remove roadblocks to children being in school. Powered by friendship and connection funds were raised to equip people to farm and grow food for themselves. For the first time ever, each family in the religious could feed their children and send them to school. As progress was made the Batwa das injurious expression of hope and the promise of a bright future and dance was evolving a testament to their dignity, a celebration of their progress and an invitation for others to join. Over eight years, the collaboration and connection between African word and the bachelor communities in Burundi flourished. More and more people join in offering support and sharing the resources the purchase of farmland, more children enrolled in school, medical insurance for all became possible. remarkable changes were happening in the villages, fewer mothers died in childbirth, and children no longer suffered from preventable conditions. As school attendance brought children from all tribes together, neighbors began to welcome the bachelor in friendship. These were historic change. Suddenly, during this time, Mary’s village was struck by a flood and landslide. But the friendship between the global communities toured for support came for recovery demonstrating the bonds they will formed were strong in place of grass huts. 17 brick houses were built as a sign of of instability. As the villages have grown, so too has the leadership of Everest, and his team called a CG. The accomplishments provide inspiration to others, proving that being Bajwa doesn’t mean you are limited to life on the outskirts of society. They have become valued members of their community and country. By 2023. African worth and Everest brought life changing ID kids to 7000 baht for people clearing the way for progress. There are about 120,000 birds who are people in Burundi every strings of seeing each one legally complies and free to flourish. In Mary’s village, hunger and despair are now in memory and the energy and ability to look forward is tangible. The people are ready to expand their farming, learn vocational skills and start small businesses. Marie’s village provides a model for the future of the bathro people of Burundi. thoughtful, committed partnership and founding, guided by indigenous leaders can equip people to lift up themselves and others. What started as a meeting between France has evolved into a testament of what can happen when people come together to link arms in partnership and grow in connection. When we not true a friendship. What is already beautiful, but not yet visible can try this kind of story changes all of us for the better. It continues to unfold and flourish and you are invited to the next chapter. The Botswana I still dancing, will you join the DAS I rejoice over the profound transformation that has taken place. In those three Bagua villages in Burundi. I rejoice that our friendship and partnership has made it possible for our bobois siblings to have what they need to flourish. I mean, this is lasting change. And I am so inspired by the leadership of Everest, and his Oscar De Bucha. Team I’m, I’ve learned so much from them. We at First Presbyterian Church and bend. We have also been profoundly changed by this friendship and partnership. Our world is expanded, our hearts have been enlarged. We have experienced immense joy, seeing the joy of our boardwalk friends dancing. We are not the same as the result of this friendship. And we so look forward to deepening our friendship in the years to come. It’s true. Life is good when you’re happy. But life is so much better. When you bring joy to others. We rise by lifting others. So look around you. Don’t worry about the finishing line. Don’t worry about winning. Don’t worry about getting ahead. Look around who has been left behind? Who has been knocked down? Who might need a hand to get on their feet. Don’t just lift them up. Grab their hand walk beside them. Be curious about what friendship might look like. Be willing to receive as much as you’re willing to give. You just might discover the one you’re really lifting is yourself. May it be so

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Online and Television Services, A Spacious Christianity
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