Kent Annan, M.Div., is director of Humanitarian & Disaster Leadership at Wheaton College. Follow on Twitter at @kentannan or visit kentannan.com.

Posts By This Author

8 Questions Your Church Needs to Ask Before Reopening

by Kent Annan, by Jamie D. Aten 05-27-2020

Image via Shutterstock/Pasquale Senatore

2. Do we understand how church life is inherently different than other expressions of civic life?

While many of the businesses that have stayed open, or are being authorized to reopen, are inherently transactional, what happens in churches in inherently social and relational. We eat together; we sing together; we embrace one another; we care for one another’s children. These familiar patterns have been ingrained in us through years of meeting together, and will be challenging for many to shake even when we know the risk and have a plan in place.

States Are Reopening. Should the Church?

by Kent Annan, by Jamie D. Aten 05-12-2020

Man at work cleaning the floor waiting for the reopening of the church. Turin, Italy. Photo by MikeDotta / Shutterstock.com

While states haven’t been imposing restrictions particular to houses of worship, they have thus far been limiting social gatherings, many states restricting groups to no more than 10 people. As they begin allowing gatherings of up to 50 people, and eventually larger gatherings with specific protective restrictions in place, church leaders will be making decisions about how church life resumes.

10 Ways To Do Online Church Without Losing Community

by Jamie D. Aten, by Kent Annan 04-20-2020

A screenshot shows choir Sola rehearsing online using a Zoom platform in Riga, Latvia April 14, 2020. REUTERS/Janis Laizans

Churches across the country are learning that loving one another and our neighbors — while physically distancing ourselves from them — is possible.

Stay Home While Celebrating Easter

by Jamie D. Aten, by Kent Annan 04-06-2020

Image via Reuters/Yves Herman

This moment when you’re pausing to re-imagine Easter worship is ripe with possibility. How can you invite folks in the congregation to share and to lead? Yes, you can invite specific individuals to prerecord Scripture readings or prayers, but why not let them share their hearts? Ask a few folks to share, in 60 seconds or less, how they’ve see the body of Christ love and serve during this season.

How to Talk to Your Aging Parent about COVID-19: A Thoughtful Approach to Conversations

by Jamie D. Aten, by Kent Annan 03-17-2020

If you’re more tech savvy, socially networked, or otherwise resourced than your aging parents, you may be tempted to believe that you’re responsible for the way they will weather this season of COVID-19. Invite your loved ones into a conversation that honors all their experience and wisdom. At the same time, be mindful that even though they are your parents, they may need your help taking necessary precautions. Together you can discover and implement measures that support them during these uncertain days.

Words Still Matter

by Kent Annan 05-21-2018

Calling people “animals” misses the mark on all of this, even if the comment only referred to gang members. No, we shouldn’t shrug at evil or avoid calling out awful things and people who are causing great suffering — an important part of our power with language. But even in naming evil we’re to be guided by love for the suffering and those who cause suffering. Jesus loved the criminal on the cross next to him on Golgotha. Each person is made in God’s image and loved by God.

5 Years After the Haiti Earthquake

by Kent Annan 01-12-2015
Rubble after the earthquake in 2010. Image courtesy Haiti Partners.

Rubble after the earthquake in 2010. Image courtesy Haiti Partners.

On this 5th anniversary of the earthquake, I remember four-story buildings collapsed into a stack of concrete pancakes. I remember circling over Port-au-Prince in a small plane with other relief personnel six days after the earthquake, finally able to get there. I remember bodies being pulled from rubble. I remember how it seemed to take so long for rebuilding to start. People responded generously around the world, though the overall impact has been hard to track. It has been encouraging to see building and infrastructure progress the past couple of years. Still, the big picture can make my faith and hope go a bit wobbly.

It’s when I think of people — and when I start reflecting on the earthquake, people come first to mind — that the sadness comes on stronger, but so does the reason for faith and hope.

Joy's Shadow As New School Year Begins

by Kent Annan 09-01-2011

My daughter attended her first day of kindergarten today. A poignant milestone dressed up in an exceptionally cute plaid jumper.

My wife and I thought we were pretty cool with it. Our daughter had attended preschool, after all, so this wasn't a major logistical change. She was excited as we dropped her off, said goodbye with a smile over her shoulder, then back to drawing in her new notebook.

We still thought we were cool with it after we signed up for PTA at the courtyard table. We ran into the local rabbi. My wife is pastor at a Lutheran church in town and they cross paths regularly. The rabbi's third child was starting kindergarten. He's an old hand at this.

Three Cups of Truth on the Greg Mortenson Controversy

by Kent Annan 04-25-2011

I just watched a 60 Minutes expose on Greg Mortenson, co-author of Three Cups of Tea and co-founder of the nonprofit the Central Asia Institute. Watching this news story that accused Mortenson of fabricating key stories in his book, lacking organizational/financial transparency and effectiveness, and receiving "excessive" personal benefits from his organization felt like a punch in the gut, even if it's of the too familiar heroes-come-crashing-down variety.

It must have felt like a punch to many. None of us like to give our hard-earned pennies or dollars or peace prize money to someone who betrays our confidence.

I felt it in my gut, too, because Mortenson and I have a lot in common. We've both published two memoirs about our experiences and work for education in the developing world -- he in Afghanistan, and me in Haiti. We both travel to speak about our work -- albeit he on a much grander, best-selling-er scale than me. Once I stood for half an hour in a book line to talk with him for two minutes and he seemed touchingly humble and friendly.

Remember Death -- It Can Help You Live

by Kent Annan 03-18-2011
Watching the unfolding tragedy in Japan of course has me reflecting on the past fourteen months in Haiti since the earthquake there.

Poverty Tourism Can Make Us Thankful

by Kent Annan 02-21-2011
The jolt in Port-au-Prince herniated a disk in my lower back last month. The pain is making it hard to sleep at night.

Embrace Your Crisis of Faith

by Kent Annan 02-01-2011

A crisis of faith -- when you seriously question whether what you believe/how you see/what you're committed to is actually true -- is a good thi

One Year After the Earthquake, Haiti Youth Choir Sings

by Kent Annan 01-12-2011

To commemorate the anniversary of the devastating earthquake in Haiti, the Haiti Partners youth choir, WOZO, sings about those who have pas

Update from Haiti: Despite Ruin, Pockets of Hope

by Kent Annan 08-09-2010

Driving today through Port-au-Prince in the glaring summer sun, there is still plenty of rubble being removed. Presumably, almost seven months after the earthquake, bodies are still being discovered.

Scarcity and Generosity

by Kent Annan 03-01-2010
After Hurricane Jeanne struck Haiti in 2004, people gave abundantly from what little they had.

Video: Saved from the Rubble in Haiti

by Kent Annan 02-17-2010
Here is an interesting interview with Gerald and Wenson, who helped to rescue Christa Brelsford after a house in Darbonne collapsed on her during the earthquake.

Video: My Adopted Family Reunion in Haiti

by Kent Annan 01-25-2010
I was just interviewed on "100 Huntley Street," a national TV show in Canada. I was in Toronto for a Haiti Partners event with Tony Campolo on Sunday evening that was scheduled six months ago.

Haiti: 'How Long, Oh Lord, How Long?'

by Kent Annan 01-18-2010
My phone rang at 1:00 a.m. It was one of the young men in the family we lived with for the first seven months when my wife and I moved to Haiti.

On the Ground in Haiti

by Kent Annan 01-15-2010
Thank you so much for your concern, prayers, and gifts for people in Haiti. Here is a three-minute video from Haiti Partners co-director John Engle, who is in Port-au-Prince right now.

Christ and Whose Culture?

by Kent Annan 06-01-2009
A new wave of Native American evangelical theologians rejects the false choice between following Jesus or embracing their traditions.
Christopher Penler / Shutterstock

Christopher Penler / Shutterstock

SEVERAL HUNDRED PEOPLE stand on the grass waiting to enter the auditorium for the opening service of a Christian conference. People are holding bold, pre-printed signs (Teach for America, Evangelicals for Social Action, New York Theological Seminary) for the processional.

Meanwhile Richard Twiss has found a piece of scrap paper, because he doesn’t have a sign. He writes something with a ballpoint pen, then shows it to the four friends he’s standing with who are, like him, Native American evangelical theologians involved in ministry.

The others smile. The sign says: “Fighting Terrorism since 1492.”

It’s a cry for justice. It’s a serious reaction to the pain their communities continue to feel. It’s a reaction to all the other streams of “justice work” around them. It’s subversively funny. And it’s ballpoint pen on scrap paper, so it seems characteristic in another way: As they process in behind the sign over Twiss’ head, nobody in the auditorium can read what it says.

“It’s a problem of being heard,” says Randy Woodley, one of the theologians. “I feel like 500 years ago, maybe God did bring the white [people] over. But it was supposed to be something mutual, where we learned from each other. Instead the white [people] conquered, helped out by their understanding of Christianity. Five hundred years later, we ask ourselves, now are people ready to listen?”