I get by with a little help from my friends

Jesus may have had disciples, but I need mentors more than I need followers! Meet some of the brave souls willing to help me navigate the next twelve months of my life, guiding me step by step through prayer, study and direct action as part of My Jesus Project.

Mentor of the Month

Alan ChambersAlan Chambers
Jesus the Evangelist

“‘Winning people to Jesus’ is what I was taught and it left me constantly wanting more, praying for better, striving for success, feeling like a failure, and hurting others. I came to realize that this is not evangelism. It’s legalism. And, legalism kills.”

My Mentors

<b>Mark Van Steenwyk</b>
Mark Van SteenwykJesus the Radical
Jesus was intent on challenging systems of power all around him that led inequity, oppression and violence. Some considered him a radical, which he was in the truest sense of the word. Radical actually means “to the root,” and Jesus was getting to the root of things… calling people back to the most basic things of life, while, at the same time, attacking empire at its roots – in its systems of exclusion, violence, fear, and exploitation. He wanted to sever the source of power from those oppressive systems in his midst, shifting power dynamics to raise those up who were at the foot of empire. And he did so in unconventional – some might say radical – ways.

In 2003, Mark Van Steenwyk and his wife Amy founded the Mennonite Worker (formerly Missio Dei), where they still reside. The Mennonite Worker is committed to hospitality, simplicity, prayer, peacemaking, and resistance. He’s the author of A Wolf at the Gate, The unKingdom of God and That Holy Anarchist. He’s nurtured and networked with groups around North America that are exploring the radical implications of Jesus’ life and teaching.

<b>Reba Riley</b>
Reba RileyJesus the Ascetic
Jesus was an activist in his region, but he also spent intentional time in personal reflection, contemplation, spiritual practice and exploring the mystical. Though I can’t spend 40 days away from home in the wilderness, Im going to engage in my own sort of spiritual quest by fasting from all solid foods during the march of month, which also happens to fall during the intentionally sacrificial season of Lent. I will also engage in four different (non-Christian) spiritual practices to help me better understand other dimensions of spiritual disciplines, with the hope of also more closely discovering the ascetic nature of the heart of Jesus.

Reba Riley is the author of Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome: A Memoir of Humor and Healing in 30 Religions (Chalice Press, April 2015) in which she explored thirty religions in her thirtieth year (including fasting). She is the PTCS blogger at Patheos.com. When her article naming Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome went viral, she also became the accidental founder of the PTCS community.

<b>Slim Moon</b>
Slim MoonJesus the Healer
Jesus’ healing acts are well documented in the Gospels, often in ways that seem supernatural. At the same time, he was a part of healing acts where he did nothing but have his cloak touched, and people experienced healing while not even in his presence. Often times, he would tell people who were healed that it was their own faith that made him well. So where does this power to heal reside? Can we be modern-day healers? Miracle workers? We may not cure lbindness with spit andm ud, but we can certainly bring healing to the world, which is something I hope to explore in depth during my month with Jesus the Healer.

Slim Moon started Kill Rock Stars Records in 1991. He has helped launch the musical careers of many bands and solo artists, including The Decemberists, Elliott Smith, Bikini Kill and many others. Slim has worked in Artists and Repertoire (A&R) for Nonesuch Records and Rykodisc. A musical peer and friend of Kurt Cobain, Slim was embedded in the American grunge and punk scenes, as well as the addictive subculture that accompanied. Now in recovery, he is in seminary and is serving as a minister at at Unitarian-Universalist Church in Portland, OR.

<b>Alan Chambers</b>
Alan ChambersJesus the Evangelist
Jesus didn’t tell people to go to church much. He didn’t make them convert to Judaism. He didn’t ask them all to follow him like his disciples did. So why do we focus so much on these kinds of things in our own Christian evangelism? The word actually means “share the good news,” but predictably, many people of faith disagree about what exactly that good news is. Some claim that evangelism is about converting others to be more like us. Others believe it’s best shared without words, but through humble service. Still more consider cultivating the love that only comes from sincere, vulnerable relationship to be at the real heart of evangelism. So I’ll spend a month trying to better understand what Jesus the Evangelist was mainly about, and what I can learn from it.

Alan Chambers was the former president of Exodus International and co-founder of Speak. Love. Before coming to Exodus, Chambers served on the pastoral team at Calvary Assembly of God, one of the largest churches in Orlando. In 2013, Chambers repudiated the organization’s mission of employing “ex-gay” or “reparative therapy” in a nearly hour-long talk at the organization’s 38th annual meeting. He co-founded Speak. Love. with two other former Exodus leaders later that year.

<b>Romal Tune</b>
Romal TuneJesus the Liberator
While some claim Jesus was a messiah who was bringing victory to his people over all that beset them, others argue that he was primarily focused on liberation for all peoples. What confines and imprisons us today (debt, consumerism, ego, addiction), and how might we help free ourselves and others from these socially-constructed and self-made prisons? This month will be committed to going into more depth about theologies of liberation, and about how we, as seekers of the Jesus Path, may serve as liberators for the world.

Author, speaker and spiritual leader Romal Tune is the embodiment of living beyond the label. After overcoming the setbacks of his upbringing and the destructive choices of his youth, he is now a sought out communicator, community strategist, and education consultant. His platform, one of the most potent and rich stories of hope you’ll ever hear, is REDEMPTION. If it is true that a story must be lived before it is told, Romal’s story of redemption is as genuine as it is moving. With every opportunity he has to impact decision makers or crowds of people around the world, Romal is a cultivator of hope and dignity, moving individuals from setbacks to success, something he knows full well.

<b>David Moore</b>
David MooreJesus of the Margins
Jesus intentionally spent much of his times among society’s have-nots, rejects and discarded. Whether stigmatized by some social indiscretion, by disease, poverty or by the misfortune of their social status by birthright, he lived among them, and even served them. Today, though we live in a more diverse, multicultural society as a whole, we also are as geographically and economically segregated as ever. There are many forces at play, forcing people to the margins, many of which are invisible to those who benefit from being a part of the mainstream. Did Jesus seek to expand the circle of inclusion to welcome those in the margins? Did he seek to destroy the boundaries all together? What does it really mean to have a servant’s heart when it comes to society’s marginalized?

Rev. David Moore has served as a pastoral minister for the past 26 years. He is a perpetual student, having taken L.I.F.E. satellite courses in Oxnard in the seventies, attending the Billy Graham School of Evangelism, the Fuller Institute of Church Growth, and several courses in a variety of fields at community colleges, UC Extension, The School of Pastoral Nurture, completed my MMin at St. Stephen’s University in New Brunswick, CA. He recently completed ThD research on how the process of doctrinal standardization during the church’s first few centuries relates to Christian triumphalism at the University of South Africa (UNISA).

<b>Joe Bessler</b>
Joe BesslerJesus the Human
We talk a lot about the divine or supernatural depictions of Jesus in scripture. But what about the parts in which he was simply a human being? How much do we know about what his daily life would have been like? What can we learn from his humanity? As one who wrestles daily with wrapping my mind and heart around anything supernatural, the human Jesus is not only more relatable; it is critical. I want to better understand his daily life, his longings, doubts, fears, and even his suffering, be it necessary or incidental to his calling. And from all of this, what can and should I learn to inform my own life, not as a Christian, but as a member of the larger human species?

Dr. Joe Bessler is a Professor of Theology at Phillips Theological Seminary and Associate Dean for Faculty Development and Assessment. He has expertise in theology, church and state issues, and in the “historical Jesus.” A Scandalous Jesus: How Three Historic Quests Changed Theology for the Better, focuses on the importance of the historical Jesus and it’s importance specifically in disrupting religious and political systems in order for necessary change to emerge.

<b>Leroy Barber</b>
Leroy BarberJesus the Miracle Worker
One of the few things never disputed in the Gospels was that Jesus was a miracle worker. But what does that mean, exactly? Others throughout history have been reported to participate in miracles, so is there a difference? Are we capable of experiencing miracles? What about performing them? And if so, for what greater purpose? In addition to feeding 5,000 during this month, I will explore the miraculous acts and nature of Jesus in detail, and try to find out what the miraculous has to teach us today.

Rev. Leroy Barber is an author, speaker and Global Executive Director for the nonprofit, Word Made Flesh. He has dedicated more than 20 years to eradicating poverty, confronting homelessness, restoring local neighborhoods, healing racism, and living what Dr. King called “the beloved community.” Rev. Barber is on the boards of Mission Year and the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA). He is the author of New Neighbor: An Invitation to Join Beloved Community, and Everyday Missions: How Ordinary People Can Change the World His third book is titled Red, Brown, Yellow, Black and White: Who’s More Precious In God’s Sight?

<b>Hussein Rashid</b>
Hussein RashidJesus the Prophet/Teacher
Many called Jesus a prophet, including those who didn’t follow him. But do we really know what we mean when we call someone prophetic? Does it mean they see into the future? Do they possess supernatural powers? Or do they seek ways to discern and proclaim the true nature of the world around them, even when it’s not popular. As one who considers myself to be in the prophetic vein, I’m excited to explore Jesus’ – and my own – call to prophesy for this month with a Muslim Scholar, expert in Christian/Jewish/Muslim interfaith studies.

Hussein Rashid is a proud Muslim and native New Yorker. He is currently a faculty member at Hofstra University and Associate Editor at Religion Dispatches. He is the convener of islamicate and a contributor to Talk Islam and AltMuslimah; his work has appeared at City of Brass, Goat Milk, and CNN.com. He has appeared on CBS Evening News, CNN, Russia Today, Channel 4(UK), State of Belief – Air America Radio, and Iqra TV(Saudi Arabia). He is also an instructor at Quest: A Center for Spiritual Inquiry at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. As a Nizari Ismaili Muslim, he believes his faith guides him to do good in this world, to leave the world in a better state than he found for his, and others’, children.

<b>Sandhya Jha</b>
Sandhya JhaJesus the Nonviolent
Some try to make Jesus out as a militant conqueror. Others content he was a pacifist. But was Jesus’ unique strain of creative, subversive nonviolent engagement remarkably different than the options the world says we have – do nothing or respond in kind – when confronted with violence or injustice? Is there another way to interpret turning the other cheek, walking the second mile, and being a peace-maker in a broken and suffering world?

Sandhya Jha serves as founder and director of the Oakland Peace Center, a collective of 40 organizations creating access, opportunity and dignity for all in Oakland and the Bay Area. She also serves as Director of Interfaith Programs for East Bay Housing Organizations, where she organizes faith communities to advocate for housing as a human right and spiritual mandate throughout California’s Bay Area. Former pastor of First Christian Church of Oakland and former regional staff with Christian Churches of Northern California-Nevada, Sandhya is the author of Room at the Table, the history of people of color in the Disciples of Christ, and she has another book coming out from Chalice Press in March on the subject of race and spirituality in America. She serves as a consultant with Hope Partnership and a core organizer trainer with Reconciliation Ministries for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

<b>AJ Jacobs</b>
AJ JacobsJesus the Jew
It’s easy to forget sometimes that Jesus wasn’t a Christian. Despite his revolutionary teachings and heterodox approaches, he was considered a Jewish Rabbi, or teacher. This means he understood Judaism with a richness and depth that few others had. So why do so many Christians know so little about their own Jewish heritage? I’ll spend a month with A.J. Jacobs, the author of The Year of Living Biblically (among many others), in which he explored what it would mean to follow the Bible as literally as possible for an entire year.

A.J. Jacobs is an author, journalist, lecturer and human guinea pig. He has written four New York Times bestsellers that combine memoir, science, humor and a dash of self-help. He is also editor at large at Esquire magazine, a commentator on NPR and a columnist for Mental Floss magazine. He is currently helping to build a family tree of the entire world and holding the biggest family reunion ever in 2015.

<b>Sarah and Phil Morice-Brubaker</b>
Sarah and Phil Morice-BrubakerJesus the Feminist
In Jesus’ time, men ruled. Women either were relegated to being second-class citizens, or even the property of men. But Jesus lifted women up to a level unseen in the culture prior to him. Some even suggest that he was, in the trust sense of the word, a feminist. And yet, patriarchy continues to dominate much of Christian culture, and in other cases, Christian leaders remain notably silent on issues of women’s rights and equality. Are we called to be feminists as Christians? If so, what does that look like? And how do we wrestle, too, with the stigma that being a feminist has in our culture, or do we simply embrace it?

Dr. Sarah Morice-Brubaker is an author, associate editor and blogger for Religion Dispatches, and is Assistant Professor of Theology at Phillips Theological Seminary. Her areas of study include: Social media in the life of the church; The doctrine of the Trinity; Body image and churches’ response; and Christianity and reproductive health.

Phil Morice-Brubaker is the Coordinator for Roots of Justice, a nonprofit in Tulsa, OK committed to liberation of all persons from oppression, by providing strategies and tools for educating, organizing and renewing persons, institutions and systems. He is the primary caregiver for his and Sarah’s children and he holds a Master’s of Theological Studies from Duke Divinity School.