Medical Trip to Haiti: July 19-29, 2017

Medical Trip to Haiti: July 19-29, 2017

Dr. Celucien Joseph, President of Hope for Today Outreach, and a team of nurses from Port St Lucie will be in Haiti in July 19-29. We will do 3 different health care workshops: two in Cap-Haitian/Okap, and the other one in a little town called Port-Margot.

We will provide free medical consultation to families and children and be distributing first medical aids/over-the-counter medications. We will also provide hot meals and clothes and shoes to families in Okap.

school

We will also provide school supplies to underprivileged families for the academic school year, 2017-2018.

If you want to make a contribution toward this trip to support the Haitian families, here are the list of things we need:

1. Backpacks

2. Notebooks & Binders/Composition notebooks

3. Pencils, pens, color crayons, erasers, glue sticks, rulers, pencil sharpeners, etc.

4. Socks–any size for elementary to high school students.

*Our goal this year is to provide school supplies to 300 Haitian families. The deadline to provide any of the items listed above is May 31, 2017.

You can contact me directly at celucien_joseph@yahoo.com (Dr. Lou)

We would love to hear from you. We can be reached in a number of ways:

• By Mail

Hope for Today Outreach (HTO)
P.O. Box 7353
Port Saint Lucie, FL 34985

• By Phone

772-985-0696

• By Email

customers@hopefortodayoutreach.org

To God be the glory!
Dr. Celucien Joseph

President

Hope for Today Outreach

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Jesus, a Man of Color: Rethinking about the Color of the Historical Jesus and His Redemptive Message of Hope and Reconciliation during the Christian Holy Week

Jesus, a Man of Color: Rethinking about the Color of the Historical Jesus and His Redemptive Message of Hope and Reconciliation during the Christian Holy Week

The color of Jesus does matter in the present time because it could help reshape Christian theology and transform Christian churches in the 21st century, and enhance interfaith dialogue between Abrahamaic and non-Abrahamaic religions. Jesus’ skin color bears tremendous implications on how we should now rethink about theology and race, Christianity and the problem of the color line in the modern world, God’s relationship with the poor, the oppressed, and people of color, and how we should treat those who live in the margins of society.

If one believes that religion can be used as a potential tool to enhance the conundrum of race and ethnicity in the modern world, then Jesus’ non-European flesh matters. If one is persuaded that a non-racialized Christianity and Jesus can help improve racial reconciliation and harmony among Christians of different racial and ethnic background, then Jesus’ skin color is extremely important. If one is convinced that Jesus’ dark body matters, it could potentially be used instrumentally to ameliorate ecumenical conversations between people of different religious persuasions on the planet.

Let’s not spiritualize Jesus’ historical human flesh! Let’s not undermine the important fact that Jesus was a historical person, a Palestinian first-century Jew, and a man of color who chose to live among the oppressed, the poor, and the outcast of the Jewish Diaspora. He was not a white male as traditionally depicted in the American and Western media, and taught in religious, seminary, and divinity schools, and theological textbooks. He certainly did not have any European features nor has he any European ancestors. To affirm these truths is to take seriously the practical and sociological dimensions of Christianity and the Christian message.

To spiritualize the historical Jesus merely as a divine being without taking into account of his true humanity is to undermine his true identity as a person of color. To acknowledge Jesus’ true skin color and ethnicity is the first act of decolonizing Christian theology and an important move forward toward a theology of liberation and a decolonial turn in theological anthropology. Finally, to affirm Jesus’ non-European body is to dewesternize Christianity and Christian theology. Critical theological discourse always involves the process of rethinking about what we believe and practice, and why we believe what we confess and do.

Unfortunately, the Westernized Jesus has been used in the past both in the tragic times of slavery and Western colonization as a tool to make people suffer, to humiliate non-European people, and dehumanize the image of God in humanity. The Christian churches in the twenty-first century cannot continue to stay silent about these pivotal issues that have changed the world, transformed the dynamics and human relations between Western and non-Western people, and continue to have a devastating impact on Christian missions, evangelism, and the message of the Gospel in the world. Followers of Christ are repairers of bridges and light of the world.

The Christian message of Easter affirms that God has raised Jesus from the Dead. The Easter story is a message of repentance and reconciliation, hope and resistance, and love and peace. It is also a profound reflection on the humanity and Jesus’ physical body which God has vindicated. The Easter message is also a message of God’s universal love for humanity: men and women, male and female, the homosexual, the lesbian, the transgender, the disable, the orphan, the widow, the poor, the oppressed, the marginalized, people of all color, people of all ethnic group. Easter speaks loudly about God’s unconditional love for the world and all people!

The Jesus Christians everywhere in the world confess as both Savior and Lord was a real human being who was self-conscious about his own ethnic identity as a person of color of Jewish background. He was also self-conscious about his underrepresented social class in the first-century Jewish Diaspora and Palestine.

The historical Jesus proclaimed a message of reconciliation and love between people of different social classes, of competing religious persuasions, and of individuals of different ethnic identity and background. Through his message of love and acceptance, he was determined to dispel the ideology of ethnic superiority—what we may call in the twenty-first century society racial heritage and racial supremacy. The message of this same Jesus, a person of color who is the Savior and Lord of White, Black, Asian, Middle-Eastern, Native Americans, Latino/a, and male and female Christians, provides meaningful lessons and wisdom to help us rethink critically about our common humanity, can help us break down the high racial, gender, and ethnic walls in contemporary Christianity and churches, and improve the human condition in the world.

Moreover, I believe that there are both creative and strategic ways to diminish the power and influence of structural racism in our society and the modern world. There is nothing “essential” about one’s racial identity, designation, or category; if this logical reasoning is valid or justifiable, then we do not need to wait for the great eschatological moment of the Christ or the future life…to work through our racial conflict or to dismantle the power of structural racism in our society. I believe we can undo race! There are equally important human factors that intersect with human racial identity (or racial identities) and shape the human experience in this world; these things include gender, sexuality, culture, ideological worldviews, economics, even religious and political identification. I would contend further that one of the devastating factors contributing to the conundrum of racism in our culture and the modern world is that we have miserably cultivated a low view of humanity and love. At the moment, our collective view of anthropology and love is defective and “messed up.”

Hence, potentially, a more constructive conversation about race and racism must begin with the fundamental question of what it means to be human and to love one another. We would have to deal honestly and responsibly with the existential dimensions of love, which bears substantial implications on human relations and our shared or common humanity. We can learn from Jesus as a person of color who has modeled for us a positive view of humanity/anthropology by intentionally promoting the dignity of all people including the Jew and the non-Jew (i.e. the Samaritan, for example), male and female, the religious and the non-religious. I would argue that the life of Jesus has provided the most useful resources, and meaningful life lessons and strategic methods to recreate a more inclusive, constructive, redeeming, holistic, and optimistic anthropology.

Jesus’ earthly interactions with people—both Jews and non-Jews—and his compassion toward men and women—the rich, the poor, the widow, the oppressed, the leper, the disable— (Yet, Jesus gave special attention to the outcast, the poor, and the disheartened) also provide effective resources to dismantle the power of race in contemporary world. Jesus’ theological anthropology was rooted in the social (lived-) experiences and lived-worlds of the people, as he was conscious about the socio-economic, and political dimensions that have stained the image of God in humanity. In the example of Jesus, we need to foster a view of humanity that is more dignified, inclusive, tolerant, and egalitarian. I suppose the modern conversation about race and racism in both intellectual and popular circles in the American society are missing these vital elements.

In the same line of thought, Christians and Christian churches have failed to respond appropriately to the crisis of race and its related problems because most of the churches in America are plateaued and are not applying the principles of Jesus to deal with life existential issues and to bring healing and comfort to the poor, the oppressed, the disfranchised individual, etc.

On the other hand, as a theologian, I must acknowledge there is indeed a theological aspect of race and racism, as the latter is a clear reflection of human depravity and our shortcoming to love God and our neighbor unconditionally and unreservedly. Racism is in fact a profound theological crisis; it is also an inevitable demonstration of the dark side of humanity. Nonetheless, the disposition in our hearts to sin and not to love another person as we’re supposed to is not an excuse to be racist, for example. We all need to be responsible for our actions and social sins, and make necessary amends or reparations for them. However, God through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ made it possible for humanity to achieve redemption in Christ.

The Easter message is also a story about God’s (and Christian) victory over sin and death. It gives us a reason to hang on in this life of uncertainty and despair. Easter is about hope, reconciliation, and love. By consequence, what are/should be the implications of the message of Easter for those whose humanity has been disvalued in our society? What are/should be the implications of the Easter message for the tremendous problem of racial reconciliation and harmony in Christian churches and our society? What are/should be the implications of the message of Easter for the problem of pain, suffering, and global terrorism in the modern world? What are/should be the implications of the Easter message for those who have the political, economic, and religious power and influence over people and to change the present and future worlds?

Happy Resurrection Day!

Rev. Dr. Celucien L. Joseph

President

Hope for Today Outreach

“God, the Poor, and Generous Justice” by Dr. Joseph

“Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act. Do not say to your neighbor, “Come back tomorrow and I’ll give it to you”—when you already have it with you.” — Proverbs 3:27-28

“God, the Poor, and Generous Justice” by Dr. Joseph

In Part 1 of the Three-Part series entitled “God, the Poor, and Generous Justice,” Dr. Joseph discusses some biblical texts that reveal God’s heart for the poor and attitude toward justice and economic justice. The same way God remembers the poor and the oppressed, followers of Christ are called to diligently serve the poor and the needy, and to remember the unfortunate and the underprivileged in our churches, communities, and the world at large. Further, Dr. Joseph invites us to consider five biblical and theological principles that encourage and ultimately urge Christians to be engaged in social outreach and social justice ministries, and to empower and care for the poor and the needy; this attitude is a reflection of God’s character and the loving message of the Gospel.

Five Biblical Principles about Social Outreach: Hope for Today Outreach

Description:

In this video, Dr. Celucien L. Joseph, President of Hope for Today Outreach, shares five biblical principles about social outreach.

The vision statement of Hope for Today Outreach is based on five biblical principles and mandates that reflect God’s character and active participation in the human drama, and the overarching message of the Bible. God is most glorified in us when we love intentionally, serve and give sacrificially, and share the good news of Christ intentionally.

1) God’s Righteousness and Heart for Justice:

“He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets prisoners free, the Lord gives sight to the blind, the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down, the Lord loves the righteous. The Lord watches over the foreigner and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked” (Ps. 146:7-9).

2) Care for the hungry and afflicted is a public demonstration of living out the justice of God:

“If you offer your food to the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the afflicted,
then your light shall rise in the darkness
and your gloom be like the noonday.
The Lord will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame” (Isaiah 58:10-11).

3) Jesus Calls Us to do Social Outreach:

“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me”(Matthew 25:35-36).

4) Care for the poor is a fundamental Christian practice and a public demonstration of the love of Christ:

“Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them” (Luke 7:22).

5) The Imperative of Faith in Action:

“What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless” (James 2:14-17).