Soon after we came to the country, we encountered a man in our community who suffered from mental illness. He tended to sit half-dressed in the alley near our friends' room. At times he shouted incoherently and made motions with his head. He appeared to be suffering. One of my friends would sometimes sit next …

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Getting in other people’s business

Most of the stories I have written here happened years ago. This one was yesterday. I was walking through one neighborhood where I teach when I heard the thump of blows. I paused, discerned sobbing. Peered around the window of the home it was coming from, but could see nothing. The blows continued. Someone was …

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Stepping in for the first time

I was twenty years old, a young Christian, waiting to meet my friends in a Portland mall. Four women rushing up to a fellow teenager didn’t trigger “fight!” in my head, even in a spot known for occasional gang violence. "Maybe they’re running up to greet someone?" passed through my mind... When the punching started …

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