The AllCreation Podcast

Our first Called to CARE session for 2023 begins like a dinner conversation among friends. In this podcast, co-founders and co-directors, Sam and Melody Harrell, share how their Baptist American-African lives led them to become global leaders in “integrated” sustainable development... “I am blown a-Way.” (Rev. Jimi Calhoun, co-host, legendary musician, author and pastor)

Sam and Melody are saving lives and ending poverty with education and holistic, community care. Now celebrating their 25th year, AfricaExchange (AE) has built 14 “integrated child development” preschools in Kenya’s most-isolated / least-resourced regions. AE’s projects are providing and fostering nutrition, clean water, education, sanitation and infrastructure, jobs, job training, Creation care and restoration, and more, on an ongoing basis in these places to help these children and their communities defeat poverty.

Meet. Notice. Exchange. Serve. AfricaExchange’s model is rooted in the best of Christianity’s and Africa’s worldviews. As the children of Baptist missionaries in Africa, Sam and Melody’s foundational insight is that CARING FOR OTHERS means: listening, noticing, and being empathetic before acting. AfricaExchange helps communities build upward-spiraling personal and collective assets which benefit the whole community and their local biosphere. AE is exemplar in their work. This podcast is worth multiple listenings for those interested in “learning the lessons that will propel us forward.” (Sam Harrell)


About our guests
 • Melody Harrell, spiritual director,
 • Sam Harrell, executive director,
 • Rev. Jimi Calhoun, pastor,, author/musician,
 • Rev. Julaine Calhoun, pastor,
 • Chris Searles, director,, exec. editor, 

About this series
In this time of polarizations and extremes we seem to be going to our Media for answers, and yet our Media is not designed or intended to give us answers. Media is a business (not a healer). Looking honestly at today’s shared social challenges, all indicators indicate it is Care through kinship, attention, gentleness, safety, honesty, support, process, nurturing, love, detail, nutrition, structure, generosity, time, etc. — that humans today need most to overcome our current complex, human-made crises. 

What can More CARE do for modern people? Our guests are asked to share about the effectiveness of greater care for all in the living Creation through greater empathy, mutuality, relationship, conversation, listening, hearing, seeing, connecting, processing, balancing, healing, and nurturing of ourselves, each other, Earth’s biodiversity, and “the environment.” 





III. 6:30 INVOCATION, Melody Harrell
 • “I love the concept of being called to care. It feels like an invitation and it feels like something I already have tools and capacity-for."
 • RD Lang reading.
12:00 Sam, Real-life story 
 • “We were building an integrated child development center on the side of a mountain in Northwest Kenya…”
18:30 Rev. Calhoun 
 • “…Now I go out of my way to make sure they know I’m aware of them and they matter and they count.”

24:30 Values
 • S- “Melody and I are the product of missionary parents”
 • M- “God had already been there… He or She didn’t have to be brought from America”
 • S- “The example of Jesus (is) our motivating factor, but that does not mean you come into an empty slate. People already have an experience of God”

30:30 Kutana
 • “KUTANA means to meet and exchange profound mutuality... so that we can love according to the way that love should be” 
 • “You won’t discover what a need is, unless you have dialogue and interaction… And that takes time and context and interaction and mutuality."
 • Melody, “The beautiful practice of story-telling takes time and being close and the space for that to happen.”

39:30 Services
 • “We started with street children in Nairobi.” 
 • “I discovered there were a ton of children who didn’t have their needs met in the rural areas"
 • Their Integrated model: listen to the community, address food, water, health, school/center construction in participatory way. 
 • CHANGE FOR CHILDREN (program): Clean water, Nutrition, Immunity, Malaria prevention, Deworming ($1 per child), Teacher training, Help community maintain school

48:30 Connections
 • Sam, “The incarnation is Kutana. It’s not God from afar, it’s God coming close. It’s conversation and hands and flesh. Our model is Jesus” 
 • Rev. Calhoun, "What’s happening globally does have an affect on you”
 • S, African philosophy is based on this one thing, UBUNTU, “I am because we are.” “I don’t have an existence on my own, I need others.” 
 • S, UJAAMA: “Without each other the whole thing collapses.”
 • Rev. Julian Calhoun, “I think it’s important to remind us that we do need each other."

 • 58:45 Melody, “A very natural response to our upbringing in that place, our love for the place and for the people, and our calling as people of Faith to love and care for others” 
 • 1:02:00 Sam, “We came about it naturally, we had good examples in our parents... and liminal spaces and events have led me to be conformed after the way of Christ, for the good of humanity…
 • “If we can be active in trying to engage the world, but also introspective enough to actually see what it is that we’re doing and listen for direction, then some wonderful things can happen. That’s all I’m looking for”
 • 1:06:30 Rev. Jimi Calhoun, “I want to address the missionary aspect — Julaine and I have led and received teams that come to paint buildings, pass out tracks, etc. — some kind of doing and very little being. What I’m hearing tonight, and what the importance of what I understand AfricaExchange to be, is the latter. They’re asking people to come and take part and BE with the people. I can unequivocally say that’s the most important thing we can do as Westerners” 
 • 1:11:15 Melody, “The work we do is made possible by incredible partners...and I can almost see God making these connections where maybe some resources can cross our borders”
 • 1:12:45 Sam, “We have a lot of volunteers, amazing people who teach us every day.”

TREES FOR LIFE (program)
 • “In some of our work we try to help communities protect their environment, without trees and sufficient soil erosion protectant when their floods come it wipes them out
 • “Every four-year-old plants 3 trees a year, and their parents get paid $1 if that tree survives a year… from that comes clean water and soil health and all the rest of it, so, Trees for Life is integrated into our whole.

 • “Whenever Nature teaches me something I take it as from God.”
 • Intermittent disturbance

 • “”No one leaves home, unless home is the mouth of a shark.” It’s not like people are trying to come and take your stuff. People can’t live where they are. Why don’t we go and see what’s happening to cause this?
 • “I gotta care for my neighbor and that’s basic to our Faith. Love of God, love of self, and love of neighbor are inextricable, and if we’re following the path of Jesus - boy, we better be caring for our neighbor.”

 • 1:20:30 Melody, “Most of the good, the real, deep, good work, goes on under the radar.” 
 • 1:22:45 Sam, “I’ve come to realize, through the help of many wise-people, we really are operating on the basis of a myth of disconnection… A non-dual way of living, one that is about how things are unified in God, is my inspiration.”
 • “What we’re trying to help people who are marginalized have a voice so they can be part of the conversation, so we realize that we’re all in this together.”
 • 1:25:30 Rev. Calhoun, “To keep us mindful of our place in all of this: in my view, it’s something we have to give thought-to. It won’t come naturally. It won’t come from a book. You have to sit around and think who am I, where am I, why am I… why are we? And then reach the conclusion, what part do I have to play? And the answer is, you do have a part of play. Everyone has a part to play.”
1:26:30 Chris Searles, Thank you everybody! 


Thanks for listening. 

Produced, recorded and edited by Chris Searles.

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What is The AllCreation Podcast? Faith • Spirit • Biodiversity • Connections

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Chris Searles 0:09
Welcome to the AllCreation Podcast.

Chris Searles 0:12
I'm so happy to be here this evening with several of my heroes and favorite people. This is the beginning of the 2023 series, entitled called to care. And we sort of have two sub themes here in this series, one is exploring are actually three, one is exploring care as identity. Another is the idea that care is our best asset, our greatest asset as human beings. And then a third is that we are literally in the religious texts, particularly in the New Testament. And in Genesis one, we're called to care for each other for ourselves and other life. And so in this time of difficult polarizations, in the United States, and elsewhere, obviously around the world, economic extremes that are still causing all kinds of disruption, violence, suffering, et cetera, et cetera, on unpredictable weather extremes that seem to be getting more intense, more dangerous, more costly, biodiversity loss and collapse, having already gone over what should have been the acceptable limit from society, but society not knowing about this idea that we depend on the other life around us to create the ecosystems that make life possible. And so on and so forth. The things that we have that are big, shared existential issues, we seem to be culturally sort of going to our media for answers. And yet our media is not really about answers.

Chris Searles 1:50
And I can tell you from having done tons of scientific research, and also having the pleasure of editing all creation for the last few years, that it is care really that is missing here, this is the the opportunity that we have to evolve in this time of multiple crises. And so I'm going to leave all that here and now introduce myself and our guests, and say, Thank you for tuning in. Thank you for listening. Thank you for watching. I'm Chris Searles. I am the founder and director of bio integrity, partnerships. And then I am the co founder and editor of And again, this is our series called to care. And I'm so honored to get to co host this with one of my mentors, Reverend Jimi Calhoun, I have gone on and on about Jimmy and I will again in the future, I'll just say now that Jimmy has this incredible sort of double life and starred in terms of his personal story, and it's one of the reasons I wanted to include him in these conversations. Because he began sort of adult life in the mid 60s through the early 80s, as a very important musician in American history, and then left music to become a full time pastor in the mid 80s, and has now been pastoring and ministering to unseen populations in a focused way, I'm assuming for 35 years, definitely for the last few years with bridging, where he co pastors with his wife, Julaine Calhoun, and I just really encourage you to check out Jimmy JMIJI, mi, he just finished his fifth book, you can find out more about his legendary musical career and, and get into this essential focus he has on trying to help communities of faith, understand diversity as an asset to us. But that just sort of sum up what I understand of Jimmy's writing and sort of a central theme from our conversations that Jimmy is trying to help faith communities just see that it is actually the sort of popular music world that is more excited about our differences and are and learning from each other and integrating the different, you know, beautiful cultural and musical sounds and things that we can bring to each other similar to food, or faith communities are often not as excited about differences and new things coming in. And so this is part of the tension we're trying to resolve with our call to care series. And on that note, we have to have truly the best people in the world that are doing this work across the Atlantic Ocean. between cultures in Kenya, and America. They live in North Carolina now but Sam and Melody Harold were both born in Africa. They started their organization Africa More than 25 years ago, I'm sure but it's been official for about 25 years. Based out of Kenya, they only moved to the United States I believe in the last seven or eight years for Old time, they raised three sons in Africa. And so they have this incredible compassion and appreciation and understanding for multi multicultural life is they were given that they were forced into that life, born in Uganda for melody and born in Kenya for Sam and literally raised and coming through adulthood in Africa, as American people. So when they speak in just a moment, you won't hear a strong Swahili or a Kenyan accent. They sound like they've lived in America their whole lives. And I find that really interesting. And I just want to say about their organization, before we get started here, that Africa exchange is really crafting their model around again, I'll use my language for this evening care that they have, they have begun with the recognition that we don't know everything we need to know about solving the problems we're trying to solve, and it is collaborative. And there's a lot more than that I'm sure Sam and Melody have to say about their methodology. And so we'll we'll let them speak on that in just a moment. And our program for this evening. The next hour or so, is to have a sort of invitational moment with melody here at the beginning. And then a few questions for me and a few questions from Reverend Calhoun. And then Jimmy's wife julaine, is here with us also. So she might ask a question or two if she's still on the call. And then we'll look for sort of some, some wrap up words around vision and inspiration or things that we should do that we're not doing and call it a night. So one more time, thank you for being here. And let's get started with with Melody's invocation.

Melody Harrell 6:47
So as I, as I thought about gathering with all of you, to have this conversation, I just have to say how much I love the concept of being called to care. It feels like an invitation. And it feels like something I already have tools and capacity for, just because I am a human being in the world with, with the world and with other human beings. And God made us with hearts. But as I think about it, personally, I also think about the people that have cared for me to this point, and the places that have been really significant. And, as Chris has already mentioned, growing up in East Africa, has really shaped who Sam and I are, and have become. And I think that will always be somewhat of a true north. For us. It's it's hard to put into words, sometimes the significance of a place. But I'm grateful for it. You know, obviously caring does involve some orientation, some curiosity, some attention and focus. And maybe the first step of that is noticing. And that's what I wanted to just take a minute. And remember, as we begin this conversation together this evening, there's a quote that we came across not long ago by rd Lang that sort of stopped us in our tracks the first time we heard it. And that's what I wanted to share as we as we begin talking together. So let's take just two or three seconds and quiet our minds and hearts. whoever's listening to this, you might want to close your eyes for a second and just listen to this quote. And then I will read it again sort of in a in a Alexio type of fashion slowly, the second time. So just here this the range of what we think and do is limited by what we fail to notice And because we fail to notice that we fail to notice, there's little we can do to change.

Melody Harrell 10:12
Until we notice how failing to notice shapes our thoughts, and deeds. Let me read it one more time. The range of what we think and do is limited by what we fail to notice. And because we fail to notice that we fail to notice, there's little we can do to change

Melody Harrell 10:53
until we notice how failing to notice, shapes our thoughts and deeds.

Melody Harrell 11:09
So I hope that as we hear that, that it strikes us again, as an invitation to see differently, to hear differently, to tap into our spacious hearts, that are connected to everyone around us. And certainly tonight, as we enter into this important conversation, to notice what what it stirs in each of us. And then, of course, as we leave the conversation and move back out into the world. So, very brief, as I said, I just wanted to sort of set the table with, with that thought,

Chris Searles 12:09
I love that, thank you-

Sam Harrell 12:10
Can I can I bring that home with a story and experience since we're, we're all just around the table here?

Chris Searles 12:16
That's right, that'd be wonderful.

Sam Harrell 12:17
Yeah. We get ourselves into all kinds of things in our work in Kenya. And a lot of it is based on what the communities that we work with articulate as being their need of the moment. We do a participatory process to determine what those things are. Anyway, we were building an integrated Child Development Center on the side of a mountain in Northwest Kenya. And at the base of that was a River called the Way Way river. And this river was, during times of flood, treacherous for people trying to cross the kids trying to cross to come to school, several deaths a year with people just getting swept away. And the alternative is to walk for two hours around to the closest Road bridge and come back up. And so the community asked us to build a bridge across this river. Well, it just so happens that one of my best buddies, runs an organization called Bridging the Gap, providing access in rural areas across fast flowing rivers. And I've worked with him for a long time and occasionally get to use one of his concepts in building smaller bridges. This one was 120 meters long, across. Quite a huge river. And so it's a suspended bridge, a hanging bridge, not like the Golden Gate that's flat with towers and suspended that way. It actually droops from the anchors, it's one of those things you walk across and kind of hold your breath.

Sam Harrell 14:00
Anyway, we're in the process of building this bridge. And, you know, it's a lot of logistics. For one thing, three tons of one inch steel cable that you have to get across the river, wind around something and bring it back. Trying to get that out of the truck. You can't just pick it up. You have to unroll it and you have to have about 20 people to do that. And so, in my mind this morning, when I arrived at the site, I was consumed with all of these logistical questions we were going to work on the side of the river we had already done months of work on the towers. And today was the day we were actually stringing the bridge. And as I started my work the community organizers name is Charles came to me and he said in Swahili ze sounds genuine what attack when hospitality is about working amoeba? No as a complex You know, there's my daughter, and he needs to go to the maternity clinic at some point. Can you carry her? Can you take her? And I'm like, okay, sure, yeah, we have two or three hours of work on this side of the river. And once we get done with that, we'll drive around to the other side. And I'll drop her at the maternity clinic. Easy, right? Problem solved. And so we proceeded to work and so forth and got to the point where we have the cable across and back long story. And I'm wrapping things up putting the welder generator in the truck and gathering the people who are starting to go the other side where retention, everything. And I'm looking for Charles's daughter, who, by the way, what as a high school student was impregnated by her teacher at the age of 16. Pretty high risk pregnancy. And I'm looking for her and asking Charles where she is. And he kind of looked at me strange. And he says, Well, I mean, she didn't want to wait for you. So she started walking. And I'm like, oh, okay, well, maybe I'll meet her on the path on the way.

Sam Harrell 16:11
We all get in the car and start driving the pickup my guys in the back and we come over this little crest, it's not really a road, it's just a track. And I saw a ring of women in the middle of the path. They had all taken off their wraps, and we're holding up a screen. And suddenly, I heard the screams of a woman and labor. Now, in my small mine, I thought this was a wellness visit. I wasn't really taking the time to notice that actually, she was in labor, and she needed to go, because I was focused on important things, right, building a bridge for the community. Well, I jumped out of the car, and I heard a baby cry. And everyone you know, all the women. You know, it's all very happy, joyful thing. And they said, Oh, the baby heard the car coming. And it came out. And I'm just like, freaked out and my guys disappear. They're gone. They don't want to have anything to do with this baby stuff. And they're gone. And I said, Well, we get her in the car, we'll go to the clinic. And they said, why? I said, she's just had a baby, oh, well, she's had the baby. Now she can walk. Anyway, I had nightmares for a while, because anything could have happened. And I was just not paying attention at that moment to what the greatest need was. I have my set of priorities. And they were indeed important things, something that community had asked me to, but because of my momentary blindness, I wasn't in tune with the most important thing. And I think that's what Melanie is. That's what I hear her saying for myself is noticing is the battle, being attuned and being conscious to what is actually happening. And not just what everyone else and all the trends say is happening. And so that's kind of a an important liminal space as we engage the world that we can actually learn some very important lessons for propelling us forward. That's a long story. But I felt like why?

Chris Searles 18:34
Well, absolutely. And I see Jimmy smiling. And you know, do you want to throw in a quick comment, Jimmy or Giuliana, a real quick thought, because it is a powerful story. It's very, if I may say, in 20 seconds, you know, that's very humble. But also I had a sense from talking with you that there were these striking experiences that lead to the katana that you're about to talk about, as a grounding philosophy, where you sort of went, Oh, my gosh, you know, I'm, I'm not paying attention to my goal here, which is to help someone else. So anyway, Jimmy, do you have a comment or

Rev. Jimi Calhoun 19:12
not really, I just, there's a parallel and how we started bridging Austin in that, because there was a drummer named Eddie to do it. He was my roommate and the beach. He used to play with the Beach Boys and he got hurt in a surfing accident off the coast of Santa Barbara. And he became effectively a quadriplegic, technically legalese, a quadriplegic. And during his rehab, various friends would bring him drumsticks and so he would, the best he could bang out fundamental rhythms on his pillow. He was in a rehab Ward and as he God was doing that. He noticed that other people who couldn't move that hadn't moved their limbs prior, who were unable to communicate started responding to hearing rhythms. And because of that, he started the rhythmic Arts Project, which is a global teaching organization centered around drumming, it's not a drum circle. But it's it's using rhythm to educate people who you can't communicate with any other way, except through big patterns. And they learn how to communicate with each other, and between each other, do this man's work. And the parallel to what you just shared was he came to Austin and asked me to, about nine years ago, he asked me to park you know, be a second for him. So he went out to this Roman Catholic Church and I thought, oh, there's going to be eight or nine sweet kids and pensive cheeks, and we'll have a great time and he'll play the drums and I'll do a little music presentation.

Rev. Jimi Calhoun 21:07
Well, there was busload after busload, after busload of all these people who were differently able getting off, and I, and I thought, Where are these people? During the day, when I'm going into the market, driving around walking down the street, going to school, going to church? Where are they, and I found out that they were kind of pushed out of sight, they have these community homes all over town, and they just sit there, and I never noticed them. Now, whenever Julian and I are in a market or any public space, we see people who would be qualified, or characterized as disabled. And they're there. They're there, they're inside of our society, but I had never noticed them. And now I go out of my way to make sure they know I'm aware of them. And they matter. And they count those as a legitimate human being in the market, doing whatever it is everybody else is doing. So when as soon as you told that story, I went, my goodness. And I heard that, that noticing and failure to notice, that was me. And now I have the vocabulary to maybe spread that with others. So the best thing I can do right now is thank you for that.

Chris Searles 22:41
Yeah, that's wonderful. And we wanted to talk about how the noticing others and, you know, this idea of big picture even is something we had talked about in the lead up to the interview, how that how that led to the methodology inside or underpinning Africa exchange. Or I'll say Africa, for the listeners. And I want to just characterize one thing, Sam, before you sort of maybe take, take the steering wheel or melody and talk about this, that Africa exchange, my sort of re languaging of it is that Africa exchange is really focused on mutuality. And so this, this approach is sort of the how we're bridging together here these things, children, and childcare and child development. Sam mentioned a moment ago, integrated Child Development Centers, I really hope to hear about that. Empowerment.

Chris Searles 23:32
He also mentioned, helping this young woman who was impregnated by her teacher, they have lots of these stories of helping victimized people or people who would be put in arranged marriages. And I don't know that much about that either. But I know that's a big thing. And, and another piece I'll just throw in about why I'm excited this particular group of people is here to kick off this series, is that each of you really understands how difficult this chosen life of care is. And yet you're still positive on people. And so this empowerment piece is really one of the most difficult ones because it's so economic and psychological as well. And then finally, Earth care that, you know, I've had wonderful conversations with Sam already about his appreciation for the other species, the the lands, the ecosystems, sacredness of being in communion with other forms of life and being in those places that are still wild. So I just want to step out of the way and say Sam can can you or melody talk a little bit about Africa exchanges, organizational strategy and identity? And just sort of as you have said, the why in your methodology?

Sam Harrell 24:48
Yeah, you know, the Hawaii arises a good bit from who we are. Melody and I are the product of missionary parents. And they lived next door to each other in Tanzania in 1958, before we were born, so we kind of joked that ours was an arranged marriage, you know, from the beginning. Her parents went to Uganda author Idi Amin during those years, and mine to Kenya. And I'll be honest with you, you can take this however you want my first memories. As a child, under three, were growing up, strapped to the back of an African woman. And those were my first eyes, to be able to see out from that safe place. I played with her children, we ate together, we did children type of things together. And I think that had a profound impact on me more than I probably can articulate. I would say if there's one thing that characterizes both melody, and I is that we're Third Culture, people. You may have heard it talked about --

Chris Searles 26:07
Yeah -- what is a "Third Culture person," with that I could use an explanation.

Sam Harrell 26:11
Yeah. So it's, it's people who, whose parents are of one culture, and yet they grew up in a different culture. And there's something in between those two, they have to kind of bridge cultures, you know, in our case, every four or five years, when we were growing up, we would come back to the States for a period of time and then go back home, to where we lived. And trying to navigate those massive changes, makes us something different, weird most of the time. But we call ourselves TC caves are Third Culture, kids, we belong everywhere and nowhere. And to be honest with you, a good bit of our lives are searching for identity, and who are we and one of our greatest joys, is making ourselves be known to people who are close to us, like So Chris, you know, you're gonna join us next month in Kenya, it's a profound joy for me to be able to share my, what makes me with you. That gives me great pleasure. And so that's why I do it. That's why I spend so much time organizing events and whatever. So this idea of Africa exchange came about because as a missionary kid, I was in that milieu. And I watched a lot of one way traffic, a lot of people from America, whether they were church people, or eight people or whatever, they came with the answers. And you know, the African people just were there to receive the actions of these other good people. And I knew when I understood that there was some amazing amount of wisdom already in place. And I didn't see that any kind of a transfer happening.

Melody Harrell 28:16
And also, God had already been there. Yeah.

Chris Searles 28:24
How do you mean what God had already?

Melody Harrell 28:26
I just mean, he or she didn't have to be brought from America?

Chris Searles 28:33
Oh, they were already in touch with their divine? Yes,

Melody Harrell 28:36
yes, God was very much at work already.

Chris Searles 28:40
with The local people, the Kenyan people, the indigenous people. And

Sam Harrell 28:43
that's not to say that, you know, being people of the Christian faith, that's not to say that our primary message of love and mutuality is not nothing. It's very profound, through the example of Jesus, and it's our motivating factor. But that does not mean you come into an empty slate. People already have an experience of God. I heard his story and whether it's true or not, it's true. This happened in South America where missionaries came and there was a local population who they lived among and worked with. And one of the gentlemen who they became really close to quickly gravitated towards this message of hope and life through Jesus. And that missionary asked him he said, but you know, before we came, you are already profoundly interested in what did you do with that? And this guy says, well, in the morning, I would wake up and climb to the ridge, and as I saw the sunrise, I would pray to the sun. Oh, you made me and if it wasn't you who made me than the one that made you? Well, I mean, good grief, that person was halfway there. You know, that person had a profound hunger for ultimate reality. And so they had a lot to contribute to this conversation. And so we have essentially patterned our philosophy. We call it a philosophy, it's actually a slightly word Katana, which means to meet one another, interact with one another, you know, whenever you

Chris Searles 30:34
Could you perhaps say and spell KUTANA.

Sam Harrell 30:38
So it's right here. KUTANA. It means to meet and to encounter to come upon. And whenever you meet something like you know, you're walking, you meet an elephant in the path, you better be sure that elephant is meeting you too, right? So it isn't a one way reaction, there's something new that happens when two things meet together. And if we have the eyes to see that melody led us to the beginning, and to notice what's happening. Some amazing things can happen if we acknowledge the other person's humanity. And so not all mission work does that. You know, mission work sometimes is profoundly uncurious. It comes with the answer with a few laws and steps and checks the box and then we move on. Yeah, I'm sorry, I don't go for that. But

Chris Searles 31:38
have you seen outcomes of that you could quickly sort of, except, say why you don't go for that, as it were?

Sam Harrell 31:46
Well, you don't, you don't simply replace an entire cultural context with another one. You have to allow for a word of truth to you know, if you could, okay, a sociologist would say the first message comes and it is translated into another language. And some people stop right there. As long as you can take three to translate the words from your words to the other person's, then you've done your job. Well, that's a step. But the next thing is about contextualization, right? I mean, the words have to be put into a way, in sometimes the entire form or story might have to change, because this one doesn't make sense in the sculpture. And then you know, you have that. And if that's not radical, you finally have inculturation, which is, you have to allow that message to take on a new form, and that other person, and your interaction with that person changes you. It's not a one, it's not one way, it's a mutual, it's exchange. So this idea of Africa exchange grew out of that, and profound immune mutuality is I would say, that's our missiology. Or that's our, that's our philosophy that we tried to in everything we do. That's sort of our guiding principle. And it's a program where we introduce people to that context, so that they can learn from, bring that wisdom back here, and let it change their lives and orient them in a new direction. Because there's a lot of answers, we all came from there, we might better listen to the people who still there live there. Right.

Chris Searles 33:31
One thing I love about the trip that you mentioned we're about to go on is the most of the people I think, going on the tour or related to students or our students. And so you're trying to share this experience with them. So as you say that we all evolve.

Sam Harrell 33:48
We think a mission is charity, or evangelism, it can be both of those things. But those things are not mutually exclusive. And they can be used in appropriate and inappropriate ways. So

Melody Harrell 34:05
and I think, I think for people that have been on mission trips before it can be a little bit surprising to, you know, ask what are we going to be doing? And, and have the answer be, you know, we will be sharing with the people that we meet, and learning about their lives and what their day is hold and processing that together. But we're not going to be painting a building or building, you know, whatever.

Sam Harrell 34:39
And we're not going to be preaching, frankly, because

Chris Searles 34:42
it's funny the, to interrupt you, I'm sorry, but the the sort of concept is a little hard to get until you look at the name of your organization, Africa exchange, and it is this idea of going to exchange and really trying to be more of a listener than maker or something, begin to become I love, like you said, getting the context of the place. And in the itinerary you sent me, for instance, you know, there's just beautiful language in there, and ideas and points about how it's going to take a little time to sort of see and realize recognize how wealthy we are as Americans in the Kenyan context, to just to take in the the culture at its pace, this different part of the world, and so on and so forth. So I don't want to say any more things, I do want to ask melody, if she would like to also comment and a little more in this area, the methodology and so forth?

Melody Harrell 35:41
Um, I don't think so. I think Sam, Sam covered it pretty well. And I'll jump in if I have other thoughts.

Sam Harrell 35:51
Oh, you know, Jimmy told the story about noticing people and I don't know whether it was I don't know who actually came up with with this, who actually said it. Whether it was Augustine or whether it was Dostoyevsky, as is commonly thought, but you cannot love what you do not know. And others have taken this a little differently and said, you know, you can't care for the creation that you don't even interact with, right? You can't love what you do not know. And so, what Katana is about is getting to know. So that we can love according to the way that love should be, you know, I would say that in our caring occupations, there is a very high temptation to deliver goods and services, or to provide assistance, that may or may not be the right thing. Maybe we didn't even take the time to listen to what the person was asking for. That's number one. Number two is we all know we're human. And sometimes the thing that is asked is not the thing that is needed. Now, I wouldn't be so arrogant as to say it's us who knows what is really needed. But you won't discover together what need the need is unless you have dialogue and interaction, then you can get behind maybe what one person thinks is necessary, or what you think is necessary to give to a thing that is about what is actually needed. And that takes time and context and interaction and mutuality. And it's just so important to take that time.

Speaker 2 37:53
I'm thinking of of the beautiful idea of stories and storytelling, which which takes time and takes being close with one another. And the space for that to happen. And all of us know, how we respond when we hear a story and how deeply impacted we can be. And so this kind of groundwork and this kind of way of operating I think Foster's that at all kinds of levels.

Chris Searles 38:34
Yeah, the real sort of coming becoming a community to then address the community's issues. And I wanted to ask in this topic, I have one more app. Two more questions. This is one of two more questions. Can you also talk about because we've been talking about the values and the big ideas in a way. But you all are covering a lot of different types of aid, you guys are covering some relief, you guys are covering sustainable development in I think, a much more integrated way. You're covering child development. So you know, and wells are, there's quite a few different physical things you're doing that are delivering goods and services based on these more collaborative processes. So could you talk a little bit more about that the sort of things that you actually do deliver through your sort of your services, and then maybe again, stitch in the we chose this because we learned, you know, through the hard way or the easy way or whatever, that this was a good approach to program.

Sam Harrell 39:38
Yeah, so Melody and I started after we did a stint of teaching at mission schools for a little while. We started working with street children in Nairobi. Nairobi is now a city of almost 4 million. And at the time, it was probably more like two and there was 80,000 street children, these are kids who live in slums, who come from the rural area trying for a better life. They quickly roam the streets sleep on the streets, they could be orphan or whatever abandoned, they sniffed blue, they, they, they beg, and they get a little bit of context of it, and they put it in a bottle in their sleeve. And that blue, it's not about getting high, the glue is about making them not feel the hunger in the cold, right. But pretty soon it fries their brain. And in five years, they're gone or so our work was essentially to take your cross section of one place in Nairobi of these kids and try and rehabilitate them, along with a couple of other organizations. We helped start an organization called kids to kids that reached out to these kids in formal education and so forth, about five years into this and working in slums, trying to work with some sort of foster and orphan care, I'll be honest with you, I came to the end of myself. That way, it was too big for me. And there was no end in sight.

Sam Harrell 41:16
We were helping, I don't know, five or 600 kids, and there were 60,000 and growing. And, and there was no brilliant solution. And it's hard work to work with people on the edge. It's not sexy, it doesn't make you feel good at the end of every day, it depletes you. And it's rough. And you know, working in a slum is one of the worst things in the world. Beautiful people in a horrible environment, no sanitation No. And that's what we did day after day. And through a long series of events out in the bush, I discovered that there were a ton of children who didn't have their needs met in their home context in the rural areas. And that's why they were coming in migrating to the urban areas. So we have spent the rest of our lives trying to stem that migration and keep st children from happening. By attending to the needs of children at the age of four to six that's that's our target the ages of four to six trying to provide for them what we call an integrated Child Development Center. Now that name integrated is a little bit like mutual, we can't just start a school, these children will never come to school, if they're hungry, they won't come to school, if they're sick, they won't come to school if they don't have a building, and they won't come to school if they don't have water.

Sam Harrell 42:52
So when you're talking about a preschool for children of that age, you got to start with first listening to the community. You kind of have a meeting under a tree and you get all the old wise people you get a religious leader, you get a chief you get a teacher from the farther the school is the closest which might be far get a government person if you can parents, get them all together and talk together about what is needed. And our idea was at the time, early childhood development was not catered for by the Government. And we saw it as foundational for saving the lives of children of that age. So we would plan a project to build the center, which is to classrooms and an office and some water tanks. And we would figure out how to do that in a participatory way so that it wasn't just us bringing all the goods and people had by him. So the woman might have taken six months to go and gather sand for the construction. One he tons of sand from a riverbed and a gunny sack one at a time. The men might be breaking rocks and making gravel so that we can mix the concrete and that might take up to a year of their participation because they don't have the money but they're willing to give their time. And then we would come with steel and cement to make concrete and start a structure and we would during this time we're getting to know the community moving slowly.

Sam Harrell 44:35
Our manager in Kenya Marco Kelo is a fantastic human being. He himself was a compassion child. So he knows what this is like. And he guides these communities and helps them form committees. And so essentially the holistic care of children four to six includes clean water 60% of children. The deaths are caused by diarrheal illness because of no clean water. And you can do away with half of that if you help a child wash their hands once a day, so, so it's it's not rocket science, but they have to have water. So we might dig a borehole, we might do rainwater, we always do rainwater collection, we might go and find a spring that we can protect or pump water from a river, we've tried all the ways. Typically it's a borehole because it's usually clean if you can drill down. So we do that we provide a nutrition for children through a sort of proprietary porridge that we have developed with a manufacturer in Nairobi using, you know, instead of just dumping vitamins, we use millet, sorghum, Moringa, Amarin, ginger, all of these things that actually bring through their the things themselves nutrition, and it boosts the immunity of children, then we we do malaria prevention, every child gets an insecticide treated net, we do deworming, the minute you d worm, a child with a dose that costs $1, to flesh out the worms that are taking all of their nutrition from their brain to their stomach, you you can see the mental acuity just go up. And this is just a no brainer thing, right? Then we train the teachers, we have used the government curriculum, and we start a school and then help the community to maintain that school. So we've done that in 14 locations in Kenya, and we always choose the most far out places where even the government has not reached yet. And some of those places are insecure, where groups of ethnic groups are fighting over pasture or not getting along and, and we're trying to build peace in those areas.

Sam Harrell 46:57
So it's tricky business. But it's amazing and wonderful business. And when you're out in God's creation in those places, wow, what a what a joy. You know, population in East Africa is growing by leaps and bounds. And poverty is generally caused by competition for resources. If you can educate a child, get them on the trajectory of primary school, and then get a girl who was graduating from primary school in the eighth grade II perfrom, getting sold off to be married, and help her get a secondary education for every year of post primary education. That girl will delay childbirth by a year. So essentially, if you get a girl, four years of secondary and we have a few scholarships for university, then you're delaying her childbirth period and giving her the power to decide what happens to her. And at 23 or four, she can make those decisions and not be you know, sold for some cows to the dads rich uncle kind of thing. So there's a few cases in which we try and intervene in those situations, but our focus is on those children's so all of those development projects, our methodology of participation, rather than just dumping all of that has to do with Katana and mutuality. That's our way of doing things. And that's how we we kind of integrate in the community.

Chris Searles 48:36
And let me ask before is there a Christian or religious parallel or tie in particularly to Katana for you?

Sam Harrell 48:46
Yeah. The incarnation is Katana. You know, it's not God from afar. It's God coming close. And it's it's conversation and hands and flesh. That's what Katana is. And our model is Jesus. And we typically will partner with with churches or women's groups who, who are at least open to the idea of fake journeys. We have one center that is run by a Muslim woman. She's very open. She was raised by a Catholic nun, but as a Muslim, because it would have destroyed her in her society, any other way, but this woman is fantastic. She's the best teacher we have.

Speaker 2 49:38
Well, she's Montessori trained, right.

Speaker 3 49:42
The only Montessori training teacher in the northeastern province of Kenya Rukia. She's amazing. She got the Presidential Award of Honor. It's like the order of the Burning Spear which is like the highest honor the government gives because she has sacrificed herself for children. Now If that's not love

Chris Searles 50:04
that's a hero. That's a real hero. And all that. I mean, you all this, obviously as well.

Sam Harrell 50:10
No, we get to be with these people we. So that's, that's our joy as we get to be with everyday people who are doing extraordinary things, who sacrifice a lot to be able to give themselves to help create and sustain something that's important for the next generation.

Chris Searles 50:31
Well, that's the best thing each of us can try and do and, and you know, when it comes to the future, and I have one more question, but I would love to hear from Jimmy and julaine if they want to comment on the amazing thing Sam was just talking about before asked that question.

Rev. Jimi Calhoun 50:57
I think I'm a little bit too blown away to just say something that might make sense. I'm just in awe.

Rev. Jimi Calhoun 51:10
Earlier today we had a meeting with everybody else was in Scotland, a few people in Australian zoom for the Iona community. And one of the women had been a missionary to an African country. And she was trying to articulate to the kids to the students that were there, what it was like to live in Africa. And he was talking about the fact that you didn't plan meals, because you weren't sure which crops were going to get rained away. And when they ran away, then you had to focus on something else to eat. And we're just how, how life wasn't you weren't able to plan in the Western sense, you know, you you lived, you dealt with life as it came to you. And you adjusted. And I can see the look on the faces, they had no way to, to translate the word she was saying. And then she, she said something that you could just see the air, you can feel the air was lit out of the room. She said, I missed it. I miss being there, coming back to Scotland and with you know, my nice apartment and electric car and all these things. She says, I've been back a considerable amount of time, but I miss the life that I had there.

Rev. Jimi Calhoun 52:35
And Juliane and I were denominational missionaries to Central America for nine years. And when it was said about having learning to understand and being a third culture person, the light went on, I just was because I get it, I no longer feel like a United States citizen. I feel like a citizen of the world. I'm I'm here, but I'm not here. I'm here, but I'm everywhere I relate to people around the globe there. Now everyone has become my people. And how do you get that across to care? What goes on when you read the newspaper and see something happened in Tokyo or Nairobi or, and, and have a sense of that affects me, even though I'm in Los Angeles, and I'm only complaining about the price of gas or real estate or something, but not thinking about the that was happening globally, it does have an effect on you. And you are a part of them. And so I don't know, I hope I'm not going too much about our experience. And but I just I hope and that people are understood, they're catching a vision for what you're saying. Because it's so important, and so unnecessary. And the only word I can think of as awesome.

Sam Harrell 54:14
You know, you've hit on just some really important things. Thank you. African philosophy is based on a boon to if there is such a thing, you know, we think of Africans this one thing, man, can you imagine talking about all of America's all of them from Canada to the tip and Chile is one thing? No. So Africa has 50 Plus states. Kenya alone has 40 languages. So there's no such thing really as Africa but South Africa has sort of given us this Ubuntu idea this idea of profound mutuality, which we're kind of using Katana as a As a derivative, it means I am because we are. I don't have an existence on my own, I need others. And what you've just described, from your experience with this missionary woman, what she's missing is that the meaning of other people for your life, because we have patterned our lives after sort of hyper individualism, you know, we turn our focus inwards, we have all that we need, we're self sufficient. And we see that as being the highest good not needing anything or anyone. That's a myth. You know, it, we might be spinning around and a little microcosm here, but boy, globally, we need African philosophy to get us out of the climate crisis. We can't face this as individuals. So there is a wisdom that we want to celebrate. And we need more of it. We want to be about that. Yeah.

Chris Searles 56:09
Well, that is beautifully said. And I want to just mention something because when you and I spoke checked in yesterday, Sam, the way you emphasized the English translation of Ubuntu really hit me and you just said, Ubuntu means I am because we are, yeah, where you emphasize because we it's like the, the even the ability to exist, you know, in any moment, as a as an individual depends on the sort of recognition and, and membership without,

Sam Harrell 56:42
I wish i had a way of showing you in the corner of my office here is a it is called in Tanzania, Ujamaa. It is a solid ebony carving. And it is people climbing and holding together as people. And without each other, the whole thing collapses. It is the icon of community. And it's a reminder of how much we actually need each other to stand up. So that's something that I look at every day. Beautiful.

Chris Searles 57:26
Julaine do you have anything you want to contribute to this piece of the conversation?

Rev. Julaine Calhoun 57:33
No, I just think that the message is, is vital, and particularly after COVID and locked down, I think people who have become even more so into themselves and independent. And I think that it's it's important to remind us that we do need one another. And I think it's a beautiful message. So thank you both Sam and melody.

Chris Searles 57:53
Yeah, okay Thank you --. And I wanted to also ask you all about your story, in this care sense that, you know, sort of what led you to the life of care if you haven't already kind of talked about that. The personal story a little bit the, the faith aspect of that as well, where you're rooted in this undertaking, again, you all are dealing with some of the most overwhelming situations in the world, and you're dealing with them over long periods of time, years and decades. And, and so there's got to be quite a bit of depth in the foundation of that. Anyway, can you talk about your, your personal aspect of that sort of before, during, before inside of Africa exchange?

Melody Harrell 58:44
Yeah. When you, when you ask a question like that, I find myself sort of amazed because I feel like we are sort of looking back on the journey now a little bit. And, I mean, we certainly at the beginning set out with a plan and a vision and a hope, as Sam described earlier, in this conversation. But it also has felt like a very natural response to our upbringing in that place, to our love for the place and for the people. And our calling as people of faith, to love and care for others. And as we've talked about in this hour, that's going to mean more than just my way of doing that. That's going to mean really taking into into account the other I also I work as a spiritual director. And you know, this, this thing of, of caring for for people and their journey on the earth and their journey of faith with God is just a very deep calling that I have that has borne itself out, especially since we moved back to the states and I was able to get some formal training. And then it's been amazing to me the way the people seeking spiritual direction have, have sort of brought together all of my worlds. It's like I'm meeting with, you know, people locally, I'm meeting with people across our sort of church experience here in the States, I'm meeting with people in different places around the world who are reaching out and seeking that.

Melody Harrell 1:00:58
So you know, this idea of companioning others in the faith being a soul friend, which, you know, Jimmy, you you have shared about your Iona background, and I wish that we could, you know, when we end this call, have another two hour conversation about all of that I would just be so very curious. But the whole caring for you know, being a soul friend is is an age old relationship that's understood in Celtic settings, and, you know, the kind of thing that you're describing, and maybe newer in sort of Baptist circles. And so anyway, that's, that's where, you know, my personal path has has led me as well. So there's this pairing of that work along with the the Africa exchange work that we've talked about tonight. All undergirded by Christian faith.

Chris Searles 1:02:15
Yeah, beautiful. Sam, do you want to?

Sam Harrell 1:02:18
The way I would answer that is, thank you. We came about it naturally. We have good examples in our parents, but we chose some different paths than they did. I had a vision of helping people, of caring for people through actual technical means helping people to live a more abundant life by having a house or by, you know, having the freshwater clean water they need. So I majored in industrial technology, as an undergrad for that purpose with the idea that I was going to go back to Kenya, and teach people to work with them in terms of trades and skills that they can better themselves. And then through just bizarre experiences in my life, so mostly against my will. periods of time where I've come to the end of myself, as I earlier described it, that happens to me quite often. I think I have what it takes to do X, Y, or Z, and I reach a wall. And at that point, if I'm conscious and awake, something happens. You're in a threshold. Richard Rohr calls it liminal space. It's, it's a new VISTA that you see before you. And you can either stay where you were, or you can go through that doorway into a new vision of reality. I've had just the the privilege and the joy of being brought to those places.

Sam Harrell 1:04:07
So to the point now where I've developed eyes for them. And a series of liminal spaces and events have led me to be conformed after the way of Christ is, as all I can say, to be formed in that direction, for the good of humanity, and it's still happening. Those are not comfortable times. They're not pretty. And it's not like I'm running away from God. I'm, I'm, I try and orient myself everyday to follow after Jesus. But, you know, I'm human, and I'm limited, and there's a lot of other people on this globe and There comes a point where I am brought to a place where I see a new possibility because of an event, and I've put myself in those places, those liminal spaces many times.

Sam Harrell 1:05:12
And to answer your question in that roundabout way, contemplation and action work, you know, seamlessly together. Or they can if we can be active people in trying to engage the world, but also be introspective enough to see what actually it is that we're doing. And listen for direction, then some wonderful things can happen. And so in all humility, that's all I'm looking for, is to be able to recognize those periods. Because those periods when it's, I'm out of the way, and a new vision comes, or what's next. Those are so important for moving forward. And there's so much noise to keep us from those spots.

Chris Searles 1:06:11
Wow. Yeah. You know, I just want to turn it over to Jimmy now, or I keep saying Jimmy, and I should be saying, Reverend Calhoun. But I think there's a lot of relatable things in there about pushing yourself to try and kind of come to a place of integrity that you don't sort of program it come, you can observe it, and then try to interpret it. And, and then following that path, and Reverend Calhoun,

Chris Searles 1:06:46
well, I don't know really, what I could possibly say that. That would make sense to our people listening,

Chris Searles 1:06:57
I want to throw in a parallel as musicians, rhythm musicians, I mentioned to melody when when we before we started recording that you and I are rhythm section musicians, and her name is Melody. And, you know, we would try not to make puns about that while we're doing this recording. But the thing that Sam was just saying a moment ago about sort of seeing yourself, you know, reminds me of one of the hardest things of being a musician is hearing yourself while playing, you know, being in the group and being able to hear yourself and hearing the group. And so these juxtapositions of leadership and participation and support. So does that maybe add some context?

Rev. Jimi Calhoun 1:07:44
Well, yeah, I wanted to address the missionary aspect. For those that might be listening that come from the traditional model. Because you Elaine and I, we lead teams, from the States, we receive teams, and typically they would be teams that would come down to paint buildings, bounce out tracks, some kind of doing, and very little being, and what I'm hearing tonight, and what the importance of what I understand Africa exchange to be, is the ladder there in case they're asking people to come and take part and be with the people. And, and I can, I can unequivocally say that that's the most important thing we can do. As Westerners with what we have to offer, that's what we have to offer is ourselves to be with people who can use our being with them even more so than the stuff we bring. The stuff we bring automatically brings brings with it some problems that it changes the dynamic and both for the giver and the receiver. And what I'm hearing here is some people who understand better than I have in my short nine years of learning how to holistically love people, love all of them, love every aspect of them, the whatever the packaging is, whatever the language is, somehow you can communicate from the heart and be with them and I'm, I think I'm, I'm soldering on but I'm very, very, very excited and I just can't say enough about what I've heard tonight and, and your organization and I'm done.

Unknown Speaker 1:09:59

Chris Searles 1:10:03
Pastor Julaine Calhoun, you're here as well. Thank you for those comments. Jimmy. Would you also like to say some things, ask questions,

Rev. Julaine Calhoun 1:10:15
I really don't, I'm just, I'm in on it. It's a wonderful conversation. And I'm very, very impressed with what's going on.

Chris Searles 1:10:29
Yeah, well - thank you. It's funny, I'm privileged to know, Sam and melody, and also Scott Saban over at plant with purpose. And these are people that are doing this international sustainable development through a care based model through an integrated model that is about empowerment of communities. And as Jimmy said, loving the whole person, regardless of the packaging, and, and I know there are others doing lots of work, similarly out there, but I know enough to know that they again, as I said, at the beginning, these are some of these are the best people in the world doing this. So I just, it's wonderful to hear the two of you blown away. Because you've seen a lot of amazing things in your lives and done a lot of amazing things. And

Melody Harrell 1:11:12
I just wanted to add to, we would be remiss not to verbally acknowledge that the work that we do, under the name of Africa, exchange is made possible by incredible partners that we have. And some of those are individuals. And some of those are churches. And some of those are churches that have partnered together to partner with us. And I sort of have this knowing, inner knowing that God has deep affection, talk about caring for those who don't know if the word marginalized, or just that life is really hard. And I can almost see God making these connections where maybe some resources can cross our borders, and find their way into some corners and other places in the world that maybe, in other times or circumstances might not be seen. So I just I'm grateful for for the people that are on board with us and partner with us and are so very faithful in sacrificial ways, in their own lives to participate. And

Sam Harrell 1:12:48
we don't have a big payroll of people, but we have so many volunteers in Kenya, who give up their selves every day to make these things happen, certainly wouldn't be done by Melody and I were there alongside the amazing people who teach us every day. Chris, I wanted to just maybe brada a last thing here. And it it was spurred by something Jimmy said earlier about his vision and the dawning on him of a subset of people who were invisible and the importance of a society including those people, which is essentially the building block of diversity. In some of our work, we try and help communities to protect their environment because without trees and sufficient soil erosion protected when their floods come it wipes them out. So you know, this is this is a park every four year old in our program plants three trees a year and their homestead and and their parents get paid $1 If that tree survives a year and we're trying to redo the forest because from that comes clean water and soil health and all the rest of it. So that's our it's trees for life. It's one of our smaller programs, but it's it's integrated into that whole that integration bit

Sam Harrell 1:14:31
But Jimmy when you were talking about seeing you know seeing a people who just wondered where they were where they before, right here they are and look at all these people who we didn't see before. That's especially so in Kenya with people who are other other labeled. We don't have any institutions so they're kept at home and away and you have to go searching for people and trying to mainstream them or we're trying to work with that. little bit in our preschools, but lead by nature a little bit. And whenever nature teaches me something, I take it as from God. I do. There were this, there's this big argument with a conservationists about the Maasai people who are cattle grazers. And they're typically around where most of the Wildlife Diversity is they, they have cattle, and they compete a little bit with the wildebeest, and so forth over pasture and grazing. And, you know, there's typically this conflict, human animal conflict, and so forth. And there are these group of conservationists to thought, yeah, we just need to get the cattle out there away so that the animals can the other animals can live.

Sam Harrell 1:15:49
But there was a hypothesis that developed and I think it's appropriate, and it is an appropriate parallel to what's happening in the church today, and in our world today. So it's called the intermittent disturbance hypothesis. And it says that if the soil and the mono crop of grass is not constantly or periodically, hammered a little bit, keep it from becoming one species. And, and thus, a less biodiverse, healthy environment. You're gonna lose your environment, and I see so much of what's happening in the globe today, global migration, and other things as, as a period of disturbance, but it's for for the good, it's, it's gonna wreck our systems, it's gonna make us think in different ways, we're not going to have our little party by ourselves anymore, but what it's going to do is going to open up the world, to be the community of creation, at least I hope so. And let those puffs churn that grass up. So there's four species of grass and not just one. And, you know, the health of an ecosystem is gauged by its diversity, let that happen in the globe, it would be better if it weren't kicking and screaming. And it would be better if we opened our arms instead of built walls, but it's gonna happen one way or the other. And it may happen for the wrong reasons. It may be because people are fleeing, you know, environmental catastrophe in certain parts of the area. You know, there's a Somali woman poet who said, No one leaves home. Unless home is the mouth of a shark. It's not like people are trying to come and take your stuff. It's because they can't live where they are, or it's not safe. There's conflict. There's, you know, degradation. There's reasons for migration. And instead of spending all of our time trying to make rules, why don't we go and see what's happening to cause this, and that's, you know, what I shared with you about our children's work, the same thing applies to global migration, we have to figure out how we're going to live together. And part of that is I got to care for my neighbor.

Sam Harrell 1:18:16
And that's basic to our faith, love of God, love of self and love of neighbor are inextricable. And if we're following the path of Jesus, boy, we better be caring for our neighbor. And our neighbor doesn't just live next door to us, we might have to go out and find our neighbor.

Chris Searles 1:18:36
Absolutely. And, you know, one of the reasons I started my bio integrity project is because the science also indicates we should care for our neighbor. Like as a first priority. Yeah. In the way we organize and I, I see Africa exchange doing that. Can I guess we should wrap up? I think I said before we started recording, to the folks that are on the call here that this was more going to be more like having dinner, dinner conversation. And so I really don't want to wrap up, I kind of want to go for hours three and four. However, we didn't plan for that. So I would like to ask melody and Sam, if they have ideas on this just to share any of these are all of these sort of, you know, what is it we need to know in this context of making the future better? For such marginalized or unseen communities, in different parts of the world, from the United States from the the mainstream Christian culture here in the United States, especially, also maybe, or do you have advice for people who are trying to figure out how to find their place in a more care oriented lifestyle, or profession or direction?

Chris Searles 1:19:56
And then lastly, an and or could be just inspiration. You know, Sam has said a couple of times it is not easy. And there are times where you go way down. And I think one of the things that disappoints me most about mainstream religion, culture in the United States is people are reluctant to take on the opportunity of getting involved. Right now. They're afraid they don't feel inspired. They want hope. And it's like, man, you get hope from doing things. That's when you see things get better. And so maybe some inspiration would would be good. Yeah. So melody and Sam, can you share a little thoughts with us on that? And then we'll close out?

Melody Harrell 1:20:39
Oh, gosh, I don't know that. I have inspirational thoughts to share. I just this this whole conversation I've been remembering a something I heard. I think it was Krista Tippett on on one of her on Bing podcasts. And I can't remember who she was talking with. But the person said, most of the good, the real deep work. Good that goes on in the world goes on under the radar. She said, You know, actually, the truth of the matter is in our country, the radar is broken. It's like, you know, if you're if you're only looking to what's being broadcast or social media or whatever for for the good. There's other incredible stuff going on. And I find such hope in that and such inspiration myself for my own calling forward. So yeah, I just wanted to mention that as we sort of wrap up this conversation. Thanks be to God, that that's the case.

Chris Searles 1:22:00
Absolutely. And I will, before Sam jumps in, I will say, Oh, I can't remember the the thing you said a moment ago, Sam, but I jotted down the bias of the limit. You mentioned the living creation and something the bias of the living creation is to care for us. We're here where it's, you know, if you're lucky enough to live in a country that has ecological wealth, like the United States, it's relatively possible to feel cared for by the environment, if you really think about all of the access all the resources that are available to you. So yeah, the living creation is really caring for us in so many ways. And I guess you were saying, Sam, when nature speaks to you, you see or interpret that as God speaking to you. And that struck me is care coming through, you know,

Sam Harrell 1:22:50
exactly. If we and you know, I guess my words would just be I've come to realize through the help of many wise people, we really are operating on the basis of a myth of disconnection. In so many ways. I won't get into a big theological discussion, but I understand Jesus coming to show us how we were connected to God, we are created in the image of God. And God doesn't hate us. God, God wants God wants us to be at one. We are not disconnected. And we operate so much in our lives as if we could be disconnected from not only ultimate reality and God and Jesus but from each other. We are not we are connected, and we need to pay attention to those connections, then from the earth. And for the Earth. Exactly. I mean, we've created a situations where we can be isolated from nature, but not for long. We can't be isolated from drought and tornadoes, those are out of our control, even in our concrete bunker.

Sam Harrell 1:24:15
So it's a non dual way of, of living.

Sam Harrell 1:24:21
One that is about how things are unified and God is would be my inspiration.

Sam Harrell 1:24:29
And that plays out in so many ways it plays out in you guys going down to South American and trying to understand a different way of being and bringing other people even to assist in that. That's good. We all do it better and worse at times, but what you're trying to do is bring people together. That's a wonderful thing. And in what we're trying to do in Africa exchange is trying to help people who are more marginalized have a voice so they can be part of the conversation so we can get over ourselves and realize that we're all in this together. And so that would be my word of my final word is that don't believe the lie that we're, we're disconnected, we're connected. Sometimes it doesn't feel like we are.

Chris Searles 1:25:21
Beautiful. And Julaine, would you like to have a word? No :)... Reverend Calhoun, any last thoughts?

Rev. Jimi Calhoun 1:25:34
No, it's just been a wonderful evening. And to keep us mindful or aware of our place and all of this, that it's something we have to, in my view, it's something we have to give thought to. And we, it won't come naturally. And it's not something you're going to learn from a book, you have to sit around and think, who am I? Where am I? And why am I and why are we? And then reach a conclusion? What, what part do I have to play? And the answer is you do have a part to play you everyone has a part to play in there. I don't think life has any sidelines. You either you're either in it or you'll get dragged in it, you might as well go in intentionally. So it's been. It's been wonderful tonight, and I thank you for allowing us to be part of it. That that would be my final comment.

Chris Searles 1:26:33
Well, same here. I will just wrap us up and tie things off quickly. Because we've been talking for a long time. And for the listeners sake, I'll say thank you so much melody and Sam. Melody.

Sam Harrell 1:26:46
Thank you.

Melody Harrell 1:26:46
Thank you.mam It's been a delight.

Chris Searles 1:26:49
Let's Yes, I can't wait to see you all in about, I guess. Four weeks and three days or something. Yeah, we're going to Kenya. And yeah, I just was gonna say that I can't it's gonna be amazing. And melody is spiritual director at Africa. Sam is executive director at Africa. Jimmy is lead pastor and julaine has co pastor or has another title I don't remember at bridging And then Jimmy is also an author, and you can find his books and so forth at Jimmy

Chris Searles 1:27:30
This event is put together by all and bio integrity dotnet. And it really is time to change. I think we all know that. And we're looking for which sort of step to take and and it's, it's become abundantly clear to me through the last 10 years of really intense dedicated work and research that care is the sort of missing element and opportunity.

Chris Searles 1:27:57
And again, it's amazing to hear someone like Jimmy Calhoun be blown away really means a lot that Sam and melody and Africa exchange their work is truly, truly exceptional in the world. So to all the listeners, please check out what they're doing and spend some time with it. There's a lot to learn from this approach. And I do think it's a model for how we can learn to live together better without threatening each other's different worldviews, different religious views, different cultural needs and experiences, different identifications and so forth. I think all of this is really, really waiting for us. And that's all that's all we got. So, thanks so much, everybody!

Sam Harrell 1:28:39
It is an honor to be with all of you!