Columns

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That’s Just How These People Are

By Norris Burkes Posted Mar 18, 2018 “Why can’t THESE people drive?” asked a frustrated American worker taking me through rush-hour traffic in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, last week. His question surprised me for two reasons. First, his driving wasn’t much better. He was using his American truck to block intersections, cut people off, and run red

Jesus saves, but education helps too

By Norris Burkes Published Mar 11, 2018 “Is your daughter’s nonprofit Christ-centered?” asks an American missionary here in the Honduran capitol of Tegucigalpa. The man is among hundreds of missionaries headquartered within the comforting amenities of a big city. They represent various faiths, but most, like the one asking the question, are Evangelical. Most do

Many Reasons to Remember Billy Graham

By Norris Burkes Published Mar 4, 2018 “You sound like Billy Graham,” said my high school speech teacher. “Have you considered becoming a preacher?” I was stunned but not too surprised. I had listened all my young life to Billy Graham use his compelling voice to bring a simple message to my generation. His voice

No, everything doesn’t happen for a purpose

By Norris Burkes Feb 25, 2018 I opened an email this week from Charleston, South Carolina, that asked, “Please help me make sense of these mass shootings. I am a devout Catholic but it’s so hard to think this was ‘God’s purpose’ for children to die this way. “Please help me understand. I’m a teacher,

I want to find a R-E-A-L church

By Norris Burkes Feb 18 2018 In 1991, I made a career shift from Southern Baptist pastor to interfaith hospital chaplain. My decision brought this promise from a close colleague. “If you ever return to ‘the ministry,’ I’ll help you find a new church.” “I’m not leaving ministry,” I said. “Hospital chaplaincy is still ‘the

Can You Make a Difference?

By Norris Burkes Feb 11 2018 Have you ever asked yourself how you, as an individual, can make a life-changing difference in the world? The question can be intimidating, especially since our culture promotes the heroic narrative of one single person making a world-changing impact. It’s a question I ask myself as I ride along

Assuming your role, but shirking the assumptions

By Norris Burkes Feb 4 2018 Have you ever been mistaken for someone you’re not? It happened to me multiple times during my years as a hospital chaplain. That’s because staff will assume that a necktie-wearing man is either a doctor or a salesman. They usually hope I’m a salesman because salesmen bring chocolate. Not

Generosity inspires chaplain to pay it forward

By Norris Burkes Jan 28 2018 Justin is a 12-year-old student at Southwest Bilingual School in the high mountains outside La Esperanza, Honduras. Every weekday, he rides 5 miles on a school bus through twisted and rutted dirt roads. The only thing that might prevent his journey is when heavy rains make it impossible for

Chaplain books it to Honduras

By Norris Burkes Jan 21 2018 I graduated from high school in Atascadero, California. In the 1970s, Atascadero was a town without a stoplight or chain stores. However, we had a lot of churches and liquor stores. Truthfully, it fit the Spanish meaning of “miry place,” roughly translated as “pigsty.” Of course, our rivals from

Chaplain’s daughter sparks international change

By Norris Burkes Jan 14 2018 By the time you read this column, my wife and I will have landed at one of the most treacherous airports in the world in one of the most dangerous cities in the world. The final approach is so nightmarish that passengers often post harrowing videos of their flight

Chaplain’s wife misinterprets dying breath

By Norris Burkes Jan 07 2018 Hospice chaplain Dale Swan has always been clear with his wife, Jill, about how he wants to die. “If I get sick and can’t feed myself or make my own decisions, please don’t let them put in a breathing or feeding tube. Let me go peacefully.” Jill, a CPA

Faith remains guiding force in retirement

By Norris Burkes Dec 31 2017 Normally, I compose my last column of the year from a collage of quotes collected from my past year’s writing. I’ve done much the same in this column, but I’ve focused on quotes centering on my retirement planning. In May, I told you of my decision to retire from