March 31, 2006

To Whitney Houston and all the other Sistas & Brothas Struggling with that Drug Thing.....

Sister Girl,
It hurts me to see you this way.....
It hurts us all to see you dying a slow death from the outside in.

Your life story could have been that of my sister, my cousin, my aunt, or my grandfather....
All are fighting or have fought or have lost the battle with that drug demon.
Some have died others are living daily to die.

I pray daily for you and your family,
but most of all for you.

I pray for your release.
I pray for your freedom.
I pray for your healing.

I pray that God's love abound you with so much grace, mercy, strength, and rejuvenation that the demons of HELL flee in terror of God's light and love that continue to embellish you.
I pray for your healing.
I pray for your wholeness.
I pray for holiness to abound in and around you.
I pray for an increase of love and mercy in your life.
I pray that you do more than survive this experience, but that you become a living testimony of God's goodness and grace.
I pray that you are able to use your trials and tribulations to minister to others who are struggling with addictions.
I pray that God's annointing abound and protect you.
I pray that His will be done for your life, your marriage, and your children.

I pray that you remember that you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. I pray that you remember that greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world. I pray that God sends His angels and servants of Christ to minister to you during this difficult period. I pray that you know that this too shall pass!

I pray all these things in Jesus' name because all things are possible to those who believe.

Dedicated to Whitney Houston, my Big Sister, and my Granddad!
"Your love for one another will to the world that your are my disciples."
-John 13:35

(Excerpted from The Purpose Driven Life Journal: Reflections on What On Earth am I Here for by Rick Warren)

You need a purpose to live for, people to live with, principles to live by, a profession to live out, and power to live on. God intends for his church to provide these. In fact, the five purposes of the church are identical to God's five purposes for your life. Worship helps you focus on God; fellowship helps you face life's problems; discipleship helps fortify your faith; ministry helps find your talents; evangelism helps fulfill your mission.

Dear God, help me to remember that whenever I become careless about fellowship with other believers, I'm moving away from you. Forgive me for the times I've gotten detached from your Body, the church. Help me to stay connected and committed, and love your church the way you do.

March 26, 2006

Afghan Christian convert’s case to be reviewed

Afghan Christian convert’s case to be reviewed
Officials say case ‘dismissed,’ man set to be freed from prison soon

NBC News and news services
Updated: 3:09 p.m. ET March 26, 2006
KABUL, Afghanistan - An Afghan man whose death penalty case for his conversion from Islam to Christianity prompted international calls for tolerance will instead be released due to a lack of evidence, an official said Sunday.

The case has been returned to Zamari Amiri, the chief attorney in the investigation, because of “some technical as well as legal flaws,” according to NBC News.

“We can not say what will happen, but tomorrow we will decide, and due to the court order we will send him to the hospital.”

The Associated Press reported the court dismissed the case against a man who converted from Islam to Christianity because of a lack of evidence and he will be released soon, officials said.

The announcement came as U.S.-backed President Hamid Karzai faced mounting foreign pressure to free Abdul Rahman, a move that risked angering Muslim clerics who have called for him to be killed.

An official closely involved with the case told The Associated Press that Rahman would be released.

“The court dismissed today the case against Abdul Rahman for a lack of information and a lot of legal gaps in the case,” the official said Sunday, speaking to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

“The decision about his release will be taken possibly tomorrow,” the official added. “They don’t have to keep him in jail while the attorney general is looking into the case.”

Abdul Wakil Omeri, a spokesman for the Supreme Court, confirmed that the case had been dismissed because of “problems with the prosecutors’ evidence.”

He said several family members of Rahman have testified that he has mental problems.

“It is the job of the attorney general’s office to decide if he is mentally fit to stand trial,” he told AP.

A Western diplomat, also declining to be identified because of the sensitivity of the case, said questions were being raised as to whether Rahman would stay in Afghanistan or go into exile in a foreign country.

Rahman is being prosecuted under Afghanistan’s Islamic laws for converting 16 years ago while working as a medical aid worker for an international Christian group helping Afghan refugees in Pakistan.

Source: © 2006 MSNBC Interactive

March 15, 2006

Conscious Heads

*Excerpted from The Baltimore Sun*

Hip-hop trio gives its songs a positive spin
By Rona Marech
sun reporter
Originally published March 10, 2006

Andwele Allah was searching for lyrics. He had a beat, and he was awash in ideas, but the words didn't come until he drove through Baltimore one day, past kids on corners, bottles, needles, surveillance cameras and boarded-up homes.

"I pulled over and started writing the song," he said. "I just let my pen bleed like my heart was bleeding on the paper."

"You young brothers have to stop and think," he eventually wrote. "You squeeze the trigger because you're blind from weed and drink. You took a life but don't know what it took for God to create. He might have found a cure for cancer or the cure for AIDS - we'll never know. But he's somewhere dead in the grave. Hollywood turns the minds of black men into slaves. Through the television and through the radio waves. They call it juvenile detention but it's only a cage."

People have called him preachy, but Allah says he just wants them to wake up to what is going on in their community. His plea, "Just Listen," became the title of his song.

They call themselves hip-hop warriors, revolutionaries, raptivists - and barbers.

By day, Allah and his childhood friends Sundiata Ifa Toula and Jabari Natur, who co-own Baltimore's Conscious Heads Barber Shop & Natural Hair Salon, cut hair. But the barbershop has a mission beyond clean shaves and good fades, and they try to live up to their motto: "We take care of your head inside and out." In that vein, the three men self-produced Unify or Die, a CD of idealistic hip-hop music meant to counter the violence, drugs, misogyny and "fake dreams" that they believe have poisoned contemporary hip-hop.

"It's our responsibility as strong black men, as conscious black men, to make sure the generations ahead have music that instills values of self-determination, racial pride and love for one another," says Toula, who like his fellow rappers, prefers to use an adopted African first name.

(Their last names, which they haven't legally changed, appear on the CD mainly so that friends from the past will know who they are. Sundiata, 30, is Dunmore; Andwele, 32, is Jones; and Jabari, 30, is McDaniel.)

"Gang violence and killing - when you get older you don't want to hear that. I don't want to hear nothing about killing or blowing someone's brains out," says Allah, who has short locks and peaked eyebrows. He turns away from the hair he is cutting, clipper in one hand, comb in the other. "And that music, it won't transcend, you know what I mean? Whereas our music will."

It is a regular day at Conscious Heads, where the floor is checkered and conversation - with Natur, the ringleader; Toula, who laughs a lot; and Allah, who can sometimes look very serious - is plentiful.

Barbershops, Natur likes to say, are the black man's country club. The East 25th Street shop near Charles Village is also a bookstore and the headquarters of Solvivaz Nation, their grassroots community organization. Solvivaz Nation sponsors lectures, runs study groups, publishes a magazine, organizes protests and funds projects such as Unify or Die.

Several years ago, the barbers raised money to help pay for the legal defense of their friend Dontee Stokes, who shot a priest he accused of molesting him when he was a teenager. Stokes was convicted of handgun violations but acquitted of the most serious charges in the 2002 case.

The idea for recording a CD came to them one afternoon more than a year ago while they were cutting hair and watching rap videos on BET.

"They were disrespecting our women, disrespecting each other," Natur says. "'Do this and I shoot your brains out.' Songs that thrive off sexuality. ... Watching that, we became disgusted."

Corporate America saw it as profitable to market black men a certain way and hip-hop has suffered for it, Toula says.

"Most artists do want to rhyme for a purpose, but that's not what the record companies are going to sign," he says. "They want to get signed so bad, they start making music that's destructive."

Rappers, says Natur, "are no more than pawns."

The three had little musical background when they began brainstorming the CD, but they were baptized into early rap and grew up on a steady hip-hop diet, Toula says. "Hip-hop," he says, "is our life."

A barbershop customer who is a producer put together beats for them, and they started writing songs about slavery, reparations, history, love, pride, unity, black power and black leaders including Malcolm X and Madame CJ Walker.

"Central Bookings" is about the proliferation of what they see as unreasonable arrests of black men in Baltimore. "Black Holocaust" asks why it is taboo to talk about the slave trade as a holocaust.

You can support Conscious Heads Barber Shop and Book Store at 219 E. 25th Street in Baltimore, MD! 410-889-0100!