Sunday, August 31, 2008

Pictures from New York

I lost the interface cable for my camera, but I just bought a new one. Now that I can upload pictures, here's a few random pictures from our missions trip to Brooklyn back in July/August.
(David and Nehemiah at the airport)

(A lot smaller than it looked on Ghost Busters)

(Break time at the park)

The Graf Lab

(By Etex at the Graf Lab)
Let me get something clarified before I talk about the Graf Lab. Usually when I tell someone that I create graffiti with the youth in my neighborhood I get concerned looks from them. The word graffiti almost always brings up other words in most people's minds like: illegal, crime, or sin. In our minds we think of words like: art, work, and style. Let it be known that there is such a thing as legal graffiti, and it's beautiful.
I've had the privilege of teaching some of the youth in our neighborhood the form of illustration. In turn, they've been teaching me the art of graffiti. Every piece that we do together is 100% legal, and it's usually at a legal spot in our neighborhood called the Graf Lab. This spot is somewhat of a sacred place in Pico Union, Los Angeles. It's on the South East corner of Venice and Union in Los Angeles. (if you've got the skills please come through) Every Saturday, artists can express themselves legally in broad daylight, and practice the art form of graffiti in safety. There are outside dangers that come in though. For instance the Burlington gang has claimed this as their territory. Yes you might get stopped by them if you go there, but we can't let gangs interrupt or lives. The Graf Lab belongs to everyone, and it's important to not hand any place over to darkness. The Artists have something to say. They also have something they need to let out of their being. I love the Graf Lab because it provides artists with an outlet that takes them off the billboards and private property of L.A. If anything there needs to be more legal spots like the Graf Lab in every city.
We have to support places like this. If legal walls are taken away from the public then people will fall into vandalism even more. If we believe that non-permission graffiti on private property is a crime, then we have to back our beliefs by providing legal walls as a community.

(By Etox)

Saturday, August 30, 2008

What's Next For the Gadfly Project?

Earlier today Pastor Tony Thomas visited our community house and spoke to us about the church. Thomas was one of the spokespeople/advisers for the Gadfly Project, so I asked him what was next now that Pastor Eddie Romero is home.
Thomas told me that Pastor Eddie will be working on a couple of projects with the intent of keeping the awareness level of what's going on in China high. The first is a book that Pastor Eddie has begun writing describing the issues in China, and I'm sure he'll be writing about his experiences with the protest that he enacted in Beijing as well. The second project mentioned was a 30 minute documentary about the abuse of China's faith community.
It occurred to me that people of faith need to be asking God what He wants them to do next about this issue. Organizations like China Aid and the Gadfly Project are good sources for advice on what to do next. They have people on their teams from or in China who know the details. I challenge us to not wait for what they are doing though. God can give you and I vision too. The whole reason these organizations are trying to raise awareness is so that we who are free will change our callous hearts and do something to restore justice. Yes keep an eye out for the next action that these teams ask our help with, but what if God is asking you to do something else? Open yourself up to this possibility, and pray often.

The Gadfly Returns After Deportation From Beijing

Pastor Eddie Romero AKA "Gadfly" has returned to America after being arrested in Beijing, China, and being deported one day later. I haven't been able to blog about this for a few days since I've been in training for ministry. Unfortunately I wasn't able to attend his return in LAX since I was moving a very large refrigerator and piano in Orange County. (Long story for another time) We're glad Eddie is back even though his plan was to be imprisoned in China for some time. Watch the VIDEO of his return and what he told reporters at LAX. My question is, "What's the next step?" We have to keep working on the rights of our family in China. I'm sure God has some things planned, so I'll be blogging more on the state of China in the future.

Friday, August 29, 2008

We The People Event: Sat Sept 27th 2PM

We The People is a concert to raise consciousness in our youth through music, and other forms of art. It's also a chance to speak unity into our communities. Tickets are $45, but look at the list of artists performing- it's a worthy cause with great artists. Come out and support community.

Free The Robots: Free Download

So there's this great Hip Hop producer in Santa Ana, CA called Free The Robots. He's got nice beats- I'm telling you. If you like that old Jazz as much as I do then you'll click on the link above and download the track called "You Let Me Down." It's a remix of an old Billie Holiday track. It's almost as beautiful as she was.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

SketchCrawl L.A. Oct 25th

Ok! SketchCrawl 20 is slated for October 25th. Ask for time off of work, clear your calendars, get a baby sitter. For those of us in L.A. we need to pick a place to draw/shoot so start voting on the official Sketchcrawl Forum. Make sure to click on the L.A. thread.

SketchCrawl Official site

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Let's Paint the Town Red Part 2

"Red Sunday" was great. Over 200 people showed up in La Puente, CA to paint Hacienda Christian Fellowship red. Many supporters came out such as author, activist, and former player for China's National Basketball team Kai Chen. Many people driving by honked their horns in support of releasing our sisters and brothers in China. Large banners were hung on each side of the building that read "Ratify and Release" and "Let my people go." Watch the video that documents this event here.

So many churches in our culture spend billions of dollars on their buildings, and go to great lengths to keep it pristine or up to date with the latest technologies. I've known a lot of congregations that won't let certain people in their doors or kids skate on their steps for fear of messing up the building. "Red Sunday" was a beautiful example of God's people using the building He provided them as a tool to spread the heart of Jesus. As I rinsed out paint trays and brushes in their kitchen sink I saw the red drops of paint on every surface. As I walked through the halls I saw red smears and droplets on the floor that gave evidence to Jesus' presence in that building.

Please pray and stand up for our family in China being tortured in prison.



Sunday, August 17, 2008

Let's Paint The Town Red

This is really short notice, but I was just invited to a protest by the Gadyfly's Facebook page. There will be a protest called "Paint The Town Red" at Hacienda Christian Fellowship right here in Southern California. (See below for address and time) Hacienda Christian Fellowship is Pastor Eddie Romero's church. I have no idea what they have planned, but they said to prepare yourself to get dirty. Maybe we'll be painting something red. I don't know. They have me intrigued. I recommend that you go if you are in So Cal on Sunday Aug 17th.

Start Time:
Sunday, August 17, 2008 at 7:00pm
End Time:
Monday, August 18, 2008 at 1:00am
Hacienda Christian Fellowship
1358 N. Hacienda Blvd.
La Puente, CA



Friday, August 15, 2008

One Day As A Lion Review

One Day As A Lion is the latest project from Rage Against the Machine lead Zack De La Rocha. Jon Theodore (The Mars Volta) completes the two man band with aggressive percussion. I was really excited about this release since I hadn't heard Zack De La Rocha on an album in a long time.

Their myspace page states, “The name (One Day As A Lion) taken from the infamous 1970 black and white, captured by legendary Chicano photographer George Rodriguez featuring a center framed tag on a white wall in an unspecified section of Boyle Heights. It reads: ‘It’s better to live one day as a lion, than a thousand years as a lamb.’ This record is a stripped down attempt to realize this sentiment in sound.”

Better one day as a lion than a thousand as a lamb is just bad theology to me. My savior teaches me to lay my life and body down as a lamb for the sacrifice if need be. Peaceful action to prove love to your enemy is far better than the continuation of hate and violence. What I think I'll do is translate this statement as, "Better to get up and act than to sit on the couch."

The record has the angry revolutionist feel that you would expect from Zack. I really do like the indie sound that they've achieved with Zack's messy keys and Jon's heavy drums. As far as lyrics go, I'm a big stickler for substance, and while Zack's delivery is exciting and flawless, I have to say I don't appreciate the blasphemous comments sprinkled throughout the album. I share some of his views of war and poverty. In the past his words would move me to action, but with this album I just hear anger for anger's sake.

Like I said before, I really like the sound and delivery style of this record, but I can't justify the content. It's really hard to let this one go, but I have to give it a thumbs down.

Verdict: 1 star out of 5

SketchCrawl #20 L.A.

The date of SketchCrawl #20 has not been decided yet. Keep your eyes open for the date. I'm sure I'll post it here once it's announced. I've started a thread on their forum for L.A. Please sign up for the SketchCrawl forum, and help us decide where to go. Elevate L.A. through the arts!

Photographers: SketchCrawl is also a great opportunity for you to get shots of your local landmarks. Take advantage.

What in the world is a SketchCrawl?

The Making Of Oktapodi Video

A few days ago I posted about an animated short entitled "Oktapodi." The film was made by students at Gobelins art school in France. Click here for the making of video. I have become a big fan of their character design.

Romero's Daughter Explains the Gadfly Project

Pastor Romero's daughter, Sarah Yetter, made this video as a response to the criticisms of the Gadfly protest in Beijing.

I've read a lot of the criticisms regarding Pastor Romero's (Gadfly) protest in China. I respect other people's opinions, but I also respectfully disagree. I'm sure Pastor Romero didn't do everything perfectly. The fact of the matter, though, is that every move he made was meticulously planned over the course of 7 years. His advisors were and are people who live or have lived in China and have been persecuted. These are all people who live the issues, and are a part of the Chinese people. Those of us in other parts of the world must not pretend that we know what's best for the Chinese people. In a lot of ways, this protest is how they advised Pastor Romero to act. Don't forget Romero's numerous trips to China over the years, and his relationships with the Chinese in other countries such as the U.S. I believe he is well aware of the culture and the details of what's going on in China.

Many people have voiced their concern for the vandalism of the hotel rooms. I've heard one person state that making a hotel employee clean up an American's protest will damage their view of Christians in the U.S.

First of all, think about the countless lives lost and the friends and families broken apart for no wrong doing of their own. Think of all the blood shed, abuses of all kinds, and the churches or homes demolished by the Chinese government. You can't compare all of that loss to the clean up of water based paint in two hotel rooms.

Secondly, I believe this protest will show the people of China that Americans do care. If around 107 million people are being persecuted and silenced in China for their beliefs, don't you think all of those people appreciated someone speaking out for them? If you were being tortured in a prison camp somewhere, I bet you'd want someone on the outside to speak up for you. What if even one of the staff members who cleaned up those rooms had a family member who was killed or imprisoned for their faith. (Wouldn't that be a likely if there are 7 million Christians and 100 million practitioners of Falun Gong in China?) That person might have a little more hope now.

Lastly, due to the severity of this injustice- because of the widespread apathy in people over this issue- and since the Chinese government continually sweeps all of this under the rug to keep appearances- the Gadfly project had to be a graphic protest. Something had to be done that would wake us up and bring attention to what's going on. The fact that there are arguments over this protest all over the internet is a testament that it worked. I think we need to transition from "Was the protest right or wrong?" to "What can we do about this?"

Regardless of whether a protest is right or wrong, we know that the problem is there now. It would be a crime against humanity to spend our time arguing while doing nothing about it. This is my last defense for the protest. I'd rather spend my time in action.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Skid Row's New Garden

(Picture taken from LA Times)
A handful of cucumbers and a cell phone- this has to be the most beautiful picture I've seen from LA's "Skid Row" district in a long time. The LA Times has an article about an apartment building deep within our most impoverished area that has planted their own garden amidst the concrete jungle. As stated by the article, Rainbow Apartments is mostly comprised of formerly homeless residents. They tried planting a potted garden on their roof before without any success, but a non profit called Urban Farming helped them plant their next one against a cinder block wall. The gardeners of Rainbow Apartments report how they were surprised by the way gardening united them, in an area where it sometimes seems best to keep to yourself.

Resident Jannie Burrows said, "It brings us together as a group, kind of like therapy, to see something growing and flourishing."

"We're trying to feed our bodies with better nutrients, but more than anything, we like getting together," said Lance Shaw.

God is working in L.A. This story is a gorgeous contrast to what most say of Skid Row and the people who live there. I pray that this example will spread and grow throughout their neighborhood and LA. I hope their plants will too.

(Check out the link to Urban Farming above, and learn more about their "edible walls.")

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Persecution of Falun Gong In China

It is true what Rabbi David Saperstein said, "Tragically after over so many centuries, we Jews have been among the quintessential victims of religious persecution. Why? Precisely because, in the face of oppression and degradations visited upon us, good people stood by silently and let it happen." I can't let what's happened to the Jews happen again, and stand by silently. Practitioners of Falun Gong, other forms of Buddhism, and Christianity are in prison camps right now in China. We can't let this continue to happen. Everyone deserves freedom of speech and religion. If we let this evil slide then it has already reached us too.


(Write Letters To Ratify and Release)

New Message From Gadfly Romero

God must be sustaining this man every moment. I personally know some of his sacrifice to do what God has asked of him. Please pray for him as he hides alone in China, and when he turns himself in. Please pray that the government in China will soften their hearts and give their citizens freedom.


Yes, Coraline is going to be one of my most anticipated films of 09. This piece is due to come out in February. Coraline is written by acclaimed writer Neil Gaiman who is famous for his graphic novels "Sandman" and for his children's book "Wolves In The Walls." As if that's not enough, Henry Selick (The Nightmare Before Christmas, James & The Giant Peach) will be directing. Coraline looks to be a brilliant stop motion animation that I'm hoping will bring the medium back into the forefront. will be posting one behind the scenes video of Coraline each day. View them HERE. You'll be glad you did.


Oktapodi is a great short that I heard about on
Link-----> Cartoon Brew: Leading the Animation Conversation
The story is simple yet very entertaining. At first I wasn't too impressed with the character design on the squid, but they grew on me. My one critique is that there are no background characters in this town. I'm sure the fact that this is a student short film accounts for the lack of city dwellers. Oktapodi was and is a welcomed break in the never ending stream of terrible animations. Please watch the short film here.

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Sunday, August 10, 2008

Why Protest In China?

Perhaps you're like me and you need a crash course on what's going on in China. What's all this talk about freeing Tibet? Why did Pastor Romero spend 7 years planning a protest in two Beijing hotel rooms? When Pastor Romero was telling us about his plans to protest in Beijing I wasn't aware of the issues. Watch this video to gain just a fraction of the big picture in China. We'll get into the related issue of Tibet in later postings.

Another Message From the Gadfly

These video messages are made as "the Gadfly", Pastor Eddie Romero, continues hiding somewhere in China. I'm not sure if he is somehow making the videos or if he's sending messages to a trusted second party and they are making the videos for him. Either way it's good to hear from him.

Author James Mawdsley Speaks About the Gadfly

James Mawdsley wrote the book "The Heart Must Break: The Fight For Democracy and truth in Burma."

The Resident

"The Resident" aka Lori Harfenist is a current events reporter on Lori has worked as talent/content producer for networks and big name companies such as: CNN, Fox News, and my favorite- Atari. I was first introduced to her youtube videos when my friend and co-worker Evelyn was searching for videos about immigration reform. I was amazed at her view point on immigration and how right on she was. I found her website later and started watching all of her videos. Just like every other human on this planet, I don't fully agree with her on everything, but I've come to respect her opinion. Click on the link to her website above, and click here to see the video that started it all for me.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Tesla Motors To Be Manufactured In California

I know I'm late on this news, but I'm still excited about it so I figured better late than never. Tesla Motors is a newer car company out of the Silicon Valley that focuses on developing 100% electric cars. Obviously the ultimate goal is to make a more environment and wallet friendly car.
I've been a huge fan of their first car the Tesla Roadster. Again, this car is 100% electric with no emissions, besides that it's a beautiful car, and it goes 0 to 60 in 3.9 seconds. The bad news is that the first models started at $70,000 and now I think they're up to $90,000. They've been manufactured by another company somewhere in Europe, but it seems like Tesla has been trying to build their own manufacturing plant in the United States. From what I hear New Mexico put in a bid and almost won until Governor Schwarzenegger stepped in and pulled strings to have the plant built in California.
I definitely don't agree with the Governor on a lot of issues, but I really like this move. The incentives that his administration has put into place allows for other low emissions car developers to come into California and hopefully move the car industry into a greener future. The savings that Tesla Motors will receive by building their plant in California will also propel them to their goal of making a 100% electric car for under $30,000. Chairman Elon Musk stated in the press conference, "The goal of Tesla really is to produce mass market cars. This company is not out to solve a sports car shortage in the world. The reason we have an expensive car initially is because the technology is expensive and takes time to optimize. If we could do a low cost car right off the bat we would have done it."
I'm really excited about the direction Tesla is headed with environmentally friendly cars. If you would like to view the press conference announcing their plans for a new plant in Cali click right here. (all of these videos I'm posting are slowing down the loading speed on my blog)

A Message From The Gadfly

Go Gadfly Go!

Friday, August 08, 2008

Gadfly Rumor #1

I wasn't sure how Gadfly's protest would play out or if anyone would care. Now that the deed was done and Gadfly is in hiding in China it looks like he has stirred up some buzz. You know a lot of people are talking about a certain topic when you hear humorous rumors being spread.
One rumor I heard was that Gadfly is hiding in the air above Beijing. Somehow I don't think Gadfly has the financing to be hiding on planes for 16 days nor would it be very practical. I am glad that people are talking though. If anyone has any other rumors about the Gadfly to share please comment them to this posting.
Please spread the word. The people in those prison camps need people on the outside to care. The people of Tibet need others to care. The human race needs China's government to have a change of heart and start putting human life and the quality of human life at the top of their priorities.

Gadfly Project on NBC4 Los Angeles Pt. 2

Gadfly Project on Channel 4 Los Angeles

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Project Gadfly Press Conference

The press release regarding Gadfly's protest in Beijing has been posted on You can watch it here, but I encourage you to visit to find out who and where you can send letters to asking for justice in China. Please be a voice for those who are silenced by torture and bars.

Cartoon Brew: Leading the Animation Conversation

Today on Amid posted thoughts on how the future of TV animation is found on the internet.
"The paths that both of these properties have taken (Making Fiends and Daily Monster video podcast) offer a view into how new TV animation ideas will be discovered in the future. The dysfunctional system of pitching and development in TV animation still exists, but it is on the wane and being dismantled by the Internet."
To read his posting click on the link below.
Cartoon Brew: Leading the Animation Conversation

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Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Protests in Beijing

There have been a few protests in Beijing, China over the past few days. I have to admit that I've been sleeping on what's been going on in China pretty much all of my life. Recently one of our church's leaders has awakened me to the deteriorating status of human rights in communist China. Among many other atrocities citizens of China don't have the freedom of speech or the freedom of religion. The result is many of my Christian brothers and sisters are either dead or in prison labor camps because of their faith.

The issues and the details go much deeper than I have time for in this blog, but I've noticed some interesting protests in Beijing now that the Olympic games are about to start. One of these peaceful protests hits really close to home for me.

The first protest involved a young British man named Iain Thom climbing a lightning rod near Tiananmen Square and hanging a large banner that read, "One World, One Dream, Free Tibet" and "Tibet will be free." Another activist named James Murray hung a similar banner over the River Thames in London that read "Beijing 2008: Make Olympic History: Free Tibet." Both of the campaigners and their other fellow activists were said to be from a group called Students for a Free Tibet. To my understanding they wanted to use the popularity of the Olympics in Beijing as leverage to bring China's occupation of Tibet to light.

Late last night some videos were posted on of another protest happening in Beijing. An activist named "Gadfly" turned two luxury hotel rooms into what looks like murder scenes complete with human sized dummies made out of pillows. On the walls he painted murals and Bible verses such as Proverbs 31:8-9 "Speak out for those who have no voice." The murals included the symbol for the 2008 Olympics and a hill side scene that reads, "Beijing 2008 Our world our nightmare." On the walls Gadfly also asked for the release of 5 prisoners in China. Each prisoner listed is a leader or prominent figure in either their respective religion or in the freedom movement in China.
1. RELEASE Pastor Zhang Rongliang
2. RELEASE Xu Na, Falun Gong
3. RELEASE Hu Jia, Buddhist / Activist
4. RELEASE Shi Tao, Journalist
5. RELEASE Guo Feixiong, self-trained “barefoot” lawyer.
He also asks for the People's Republic of China to "ratify ICCPR." ICCPR stands for the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. In other words, Gadfly is asking China to adhere to this treaty enacted by the U.N. in 1966. Right now Chinese citizens do not enjoy freedom of speech or the right to believe and worship what they want in public. To learn more go to
You can also watch the videos of the Gadfly filming himself transforming the rooms below.
So far I agree with both of these protests. Everyone deserves the right to choose their own religion. Free will is God given. I pray that my people in China will remain strong and hold fast to God's promises.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Team Report After Brooklyn

Our team has been home in L.A. for almost two days now. I'm still processing what happened in Brooklyn, New York, so this posting will just skim over the highlights.

When we arrived in Brooklyn on July 27th we had to find the church that we would be serving/sleeping in. The walk from the subway station to 2nd Evangelical Free Church of Brooklyn was really cool. The neighborhood is mostly inhabited by Chinese immigrants, so the streets are filled with markets and people. Already we had entered a great environment for our team to be introduced to a culture many of us had never experienced before.

2nd EV Free of Brooklyn was very much like our own church in LA. The church serves mostly immigrant families. They have a sort of community house next door that houses much of their staff much like our Nehemiah House. Most of our time was spent in their S.A.Y. Yes! tutoring program which we also run in Pico Union. These similarities allowed our team to fit the needs of the church very quickly. I was very impressed with our youth who jumped right in with the kids and poured so much of their energy and love into them. Along with a visiting team from Two Rivers Church in Tennessee we spent five days with kids from pre-K up to 5th grade. We tutored them in math. We colored with our kids, and sang worship songs with them. There were geography lessons, and trips to the park. On Thursday we took the kids on a field trip to a Biblical Art Museum and to Central Park. Once 1 o'clock hit we ran a Vacation Bible School for them and performed skits and Bible lessons. By the time Friday came around we had to say good bye to these precious kids. Our youth cried that night already missing the children we became friends with. Many on our youth team told us how good it was to be in our shoes at a S.A.Y. Yes! and experience how much we loved them. By the end of the week I asked if any of them felt more confident in being a part of ministry in our church now that they've completed this trip, and they all raised their hands. I couldn't have asked for a better experience for our young leaders to go through.

Our nights in Brooklyn were packed with taking in the sights, smells, and sounds of our surroundings. Remember that many of our youth have never been outside of California so this was incredibly beneficial to them. Above you see some of us eating at a traditional Chinese restaurant. The food was great, but very different from the Latin and American food that we are used to.

We also took the team to see the sites. On Sunday we took the ferry past the Statue Of Liberty. On a free night we walked around Times Square. We also saw the Empire State Building, and Rockefeller Center, but the most memorable site out of all of them was ground zero. We all had different emotions running through us as we prayed for our world over the site of one of our generations greatest tragedies. It seemed appropriate to pray with younger people in hopes that times will be better for them and their kids.

Over all this trip was about God showing us what kind of leaders we are as individuals and as a team. It seems to me that short term missions is not as much about teaching the people you visit as it is about what you learn and bring home with you. Pray with me that our youth will realize their role in God's body. Pray for our staff to be able to encourage and challenge them to commit to their roles and minister now rather than waiting for some undefined moment when they'll feel as though they are old enough to do something about the gospel.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Pray For The Children of Brooklyn

Our team landed back home in Los Angeles at about 8:30 Sunday night. It is good to be home, but it was also pretty hard leaving Brooklyn. While we were on this trip we were in the hands of our living God. Every moment was designed for us to either learn something about: ourselves, each other, or about others around us. Our hearts bled for the children we met. All of them

There was a little girl we called Lin Lin who liked to ride on my shoulders as we walked to the park. She always wore dresses and had her hair in pig tails. One look at her and you know how precious she is in God's sight. When I met her she came up to me and asked if I liked her little red buckled shoes. I told her that I did, and asked her if she would hold my hand as we walked back to the church. She was always very concerned that I only had sneakers to wear on such a hot day. She thought I should be wearing open shoes like her to stay cool. Lin Lin made it her mission every day to teach me how to count to one hundred in Chinese. I could only remember up to the number four. It was so fun to laugh with her, and receive corrections from her on how to pronounce fifty nine in her language. At only five years old she was a very giving person, and extremely intelligent. I often wondered how she will turn out ten or fifteen years from now. What choices will she make? How will life and circumstance effect her? Will she remember the things she has learned about God? Maybe the songs they sing about Bible stories will stick with her. I don't know, but please join me in praying for the lives of these kids. Almost all of them had tragic stories of broken families, deaths, abuse, rejection, and poverty. There was so little we could do in Brooklyn. Thank God it wasn't about us, but we had our brief moment in their lives. Prayerfully God made it something they could grab on to.

Please pray for Lin Lin and the other kids of Brooklyn. Pray that they meet Jesus, and that their families do too. God Bless.