If you are looking for evidence that the ripple effects of EAPE are changing the nation, all you have to do is get hold of the September issue of Christianity Today or the October issue of The Christian Century. Both of these leading magazines of American Christianity have cover stories about what social commentators are calling the New Monasticism.
The Christianity Today story focuses on Shane Claiborne, one of our Eastern University graduates, who helped establish an amazing little intentional community called The Simple Way. Embracing the model of St. Francis, Shane and his friends have become genuinely radical followers of Jesus, embracing a sacrificial lifestyle and enthusiastically loving their poor and marginalized neighbors on the streets of Philadelphia and around the world. These young people have a special outreach to the homeless, sharing all that they have with those who are most in need.
Located in a derelict neighborhood and having only a subsistence standard of living, the Simple Way is a brilliant example of what it looks like when Christians literally live out Jesus' directive:
And as you go, preach, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.' Do not acquire gold, or silver, or copper for you money belt, or a bag for your journey, or even two tunics, or sandals, or a staff; for the worker is worthy of his support. Mathew 10:7; 9-10
Two more students who were impacted by our ministries and by the message we preach are Leah and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove. The Wilson-Hartgroves, now living in Durham, N.C., have started Rutba House, which they describe as a place of "hospitality, peacemaking and discipleship." It's a sprawling old house in a very poor part of the city that is marked by drug problems and crime. The community of Rutba House imitates the lifestyle of the early church as recorded in Acts 2, keeping a common purse that members give to and take from as they have the ability and need.
In his interview with The Christian Century, Jonathan said, "A lot of Tony's students took his ideas more seriously than even he was ready for." I heartily and joyfully agree. These young people have exceeded my wildest dreams in terms of commitment, forsaking comfort and safety for the sake of love. While small in size, Rutba House has great influence, serving as a focal point for a network of intentional and serving Christian communities around the world.
Both Shane and Jonathan have recently authored books that will give you more comprehensive coverage of what these New Monastics are doing to spread the Gospel in its holistic and incredibly faithful form. Shane's book, entitled The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical, was reviewed in, of all places, the Wall Street Journal, while Jonathan's book, To Baghdad and Beyond, is discussed in an upcoming article in Time magazine.
I have always said that the greatest legacy of EAPE is the young people whose lives we have impacted over the years, who will keep beating the Gospel drum long after we are gone. These are just a few shining examples. There are hundreds more, all over the world, and every one is another good reason for you to believe in what we're doing and another good reason to support this ministry.
Pray for our young people who are living and serving God in dangerous places. Pray for the ongoing work of EAPE. And please, continue to give graciously, knowing that our ministry together is not in vain.
ABOUT TONY + APRIL 2006