Giving respect, choice, and independence to people with developmental disabilities

There are a lot of things we take for granted – like being able to walk out the door of our home whenever we want, hop in a car and drive to work or the grocery store, or get a job that allows us to make a living. For some people, though, these basic things are extremely difficult to do, at best. In particular, such things pose an enormous challenge to people with intellectual and physical disabilities. 

Today we’re talking to Arthur Ginsberg, the CEO and President of CRi – a 45-year-old Arlington organization that last year provided care to over 1,000 individuals with mental health needs & developmental disabilities.  Arthur joins us to talk about how, through CRi’s programs, disabled individuals can exert greater control over important decisions in their lives, gain respect in their communities, and achieve a level of independence that years ago would have been unimaginable.

A church for people who don’t go to church and the radical selflessness of Jesus

A church for people who don’t go to church. Is there such a thing and, if so, what does it look like?  Today, we’re joined by John Slye, the Lead Pastor at Arlington’s Grace Community Church whose tagline is, in fact, just that.  John joins us to discuss how he felt drawn to create a place where people who have been burned or bored by church, or simply have never been to church, can come and hear about Jesus and the Gospel.  We’ll also talk about a couple of topics that have recently been near and dear to John including the power of our words and the practicality of Jesus. 

Lessons our bodies teach us about living in troubled times

Tonight’s guest first learned about Dr. Paul Brand when his wife stumbled upon an article Dr. Brand had written entitled The Gift of Pain.  While most people desperately want to be free from pain, Dr. Brand spent much of his career trying to create a pain system for his patients.  Dr. Brand studied medicine in London during some of the darkest days of World War II, when German bombers pounded the city – sometimes for weeks on end.  He returned to India, where he grew up, in 1946 and began working with leprosy patients – people considered the lowest of the low in Indian society.  He would go on to achieve world renown for his treatment of the disease. 

Tonight, we’re joined by Philip Yancey, the author of 25 books including Disappointment with God and What’s So Amazing About Grace? Philip co-authored several books with Dr. Brand and became very close to him, often calling him the father he never had. Philip recently combined and updated two of these books for release this past August under the title, Fearfully and Wonderfully: The Marvel of Bearing God’s Image. Philip joins us to share some of his memories of Paul, and some of Paul’s many insights into the workings of the human body and the lessons they teach in today’s deeply divided world.

Countering burnout and un-grace with rest, solitude, and boundaries

When tonight’s guest got engaged, his wife gave him a rather unusual gift.  She gave him a paid trip to Deep Creek to be alone for two nights – including away from her.  Many of their friends thought this was strange given the fact that they just got engaged.  Wouldn’t they want to spend every moment together at a time like this?

John McGowan is the Lead Pastor of Restoration City Church in Arlington. He joins us to talk about how spiritual practices like solitude, silence, and a weekly day of rest can go a long way towards addressing the chronic stress and burnout that characterize life in the D.C. Metro area. 

Comforting parents who have lost a child

Tonight’s guest lost her ten-year-old daughter in a drowning accident. Amazingly, this led her to a deeper, more thankful relationship with God. Julie Mad-Bondo joins us to talk about the biggest turning point in her life as well as her work as the founder of Julie’s Heart Cry, an organization that helps parents who are grieving the loss of a child as well as at-risk pregnant women around the world.

Wisdom from 45 years at the helm of Reston Bible Church

Mike Minter was the son of a Navy admiral when he flunked out of the Naval Academy in the 1960s. He was left standing on the corner, so to speak, wondering what he would do next. After returning to school and getting a degree in Political Science from Old Dominion University, and a Bible degree from Florida Bible College, Mike and his new wife made their way to Reston, Virginia in 1974 with $600 in their pockets – and the goal of planting a church. Mike got a job at a local golf course shining shoes and handing out towels, and he started a Bible study in the home of a Reston resident. That Bible study grew into what is now Reston Bible Church based in Sterling, Virginia. Mike has been the lead pastor at RBC for 45 years and is still going strong. He joins us to talk about some memorable moments in his life along with some of the most important things he’s learned shepherding thousands of people over the past four-and-a-half decades.

Promoting unity among Arab, Jewish and Western Christians

We’re living in a time of division, hate, ignorance and untruth.  No group is unaffected, including the Christian church where there are more denominations than you can shake a stick at, and numerous divisions within each of these groups.  Tonight, we’ll be focusing on relations between Jewish, Arab and Western Christians.  We’re joined by Eric Teitelman, a Messianic Jew, and Jed Robyn, a Gentile Christian who will talk about how they’re working together to promote unity among these groups as well as a recent gathering of Christians they attended in Israel.

Styrofoam Mom and the #holdthefoam movement

A few weeks ago, Mariam Gennari and I (Ed) were chatting outside the entrance to WERA’s building while a lone Styrofoam cup swirled around in a gentle breeze on the ground next to us. It was a symbolic moment. Mariam, also known as Styrofoam Mom, has been on a crusade to address the staggering problem of Styrofoam waste. She’s the Executive Producer of the 2018 documentary Styrofoam Mom – The Movie, the host of the Sustainable Scoop on AIM’s Arlington Weekly News, and a determined environmental activist. Mariam joins us to talk about how she became Styrofoam Mom, the problems our excessive use of Styrofoam present, and what regular folks can do to address the issue.

A counterintuitive approach to work

Back in 2007, Ryan Haley was an overachiever and helicopter pilot in the U.S. Navy who was living the good life in beautiful San Diego, California. That all changed following a helicopter crash on July 31st that year, about a month before he was scheduled for his first deployment. Following the accident, Ryan began to reconsider his views of success and how we earn it as well as the faith he had largely walked away from and misunderstood. Ryan joins us to talk about the lessons he has learned over the past ten years, and to discuss his podcast and upcoming book – both aptly named A Better Way.

Responding to the rise of the "nones"

We’re hearing a lot these days about the rise of the “nones,” i.e., people who check “none” on survey questions about their religious affiliation.  The “nones” are particularly prevalent among young people, with 36% of Millennials identifying as such.  Should we care about this phenomenon or just let “you do you”? 

Tonight, we’re joined by Dr. Matt Nelson, the Assistant Director of the Word on Fire Institute, an organization formed by Bishop Robert Barron to respond to the rise of the “nones” in our culture. Matt is a Doctor of Chiropractic who lives and works in Canada with his family and the author of the book Just Whatever: How to Help the Spiritually Indifferent Find Beliefs That Really Matter. Matt joins us to talk about the spiritual indifference that is increasingly prevalent in society as well as the importance of what we believe, who and what we worship, and the source of truth and authority.

One couple's experience treating pancreatic cancer

In July 2016, Diane Melick discovered she had a mass in her pancreas that was later diagnosed as pancreatic cancer.  This kicked off a 21-month journey where she and her ex-husband, Ed, considered various treatments from conventional medicine, alternative care, and the realm of supernatural healing.  Ed joins us to talk about some of their experiences and share some advice for people facing a similar diagnosis. 

The death of a daughter drives home the reality and power of the Gospel

Back in 2008, tonight’s guest pulled up to his house after a day at work and was greeted by his 10-year-old daughter, Irene, who asked if she could go swimming at a friend’s house.  Two hours later, Irene was pronounced dead at a local hospital.  Later that evening, he called his mother in Africa and told her what had happened, and her reaction was something few people could imagine. 

Tonight, we’re talking to Cyrus Mad-Bondo, the Executive Pastor of Global Impact at McLean Bible Church, and Irene’s dad.  Cyrus joins us to talk about what he learned from his daughter’s death as well as from his work around the world in challenging environments. 

Insights from a data analysis of healing in the Bible

Are you or someone you know fighting a life-threatening illness?  Have you been looking for answers that go beyond conventional medicine?  Has someone’s illness driven you more deeply into your faith or even caused you to question your faith?  Have you wondered, What does the Bible really say about healing, health and wellness?  If you answered yes to any of these questions, you’ll find tonight’s program of particular interest.  Sal D’Itri will be interviewing his Grace in 30 co-cost, Ed Melick, about his journey walking alongside his ex-wife as she battled pancreatic cancer.  They talk about a number of interesting things Ed learned including the results of a deep-dive data analysis of healing in the Bible that he performed. 

Divorce, cancer, grace and healing

In April 2008, Ed Melick’s wife, Diane, told him she wanted a divorce following 22.5 years of marriage.  What happened three weeks later gave him a glimpse into the realness, power, practicality, and beauty of God’s grace, and became the biggest turning point of his life.  Ed joins us to talk about the restoration of his relationship with Diane over ten years and his journey alongside her as she battled pancreatic cancer. 

A Messianic Jew and a Christian team up to promote unity in the church

America is divided on many fronts – racially, politically, socioeconomically…  There is a lot of pain, hate, anger, and polarization in our country.  We have heard many times on Grace in 30 about the importance of proximity and listening to tearing down the walls that separate us.  Tonight, we’re joined by two very different men – a Jewish man who grew up the son of hippies and went on to work as a civil servant, and a Christian man who grew up as a military brat and went on to work in education and the food service industry.  They have joined forces to provide an example of how to eliminate the barriers that separate us, starting with the age-old barrier between Jew and Gentile.  Eric Teitelman and Jed Robyn talk about the importance of intentionally bringing people of differing beliefs together and encouraging them to empathize with and love one another. 

Challenging underserved youths to dream big at the Southeast DC Dream Center

Back in 1996, two men launched a mentoring program in an underserved Southeast DC neighborhood where far too many youths grow up without appropriate role models.  Twenty years later, the Dream Center opened a new facility just behind its original home in the Southeast White House with the goal of encouraging local children and adults to dream big while receiving a range of services designed to help them honor their God-given potential.

Today we’re joined by Ernest Clover, the Director of both the Dream Center and Southeast White House.  Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, Ernest began volunteering at the Southeast White House in 2007 while serving as an intern on Capitol Hill.  His experience left such an impression on him that he decided to return as a mentor after completing his master’s degree seven years ago, and he has been there ever since.  Ernest joins us to talk about the Dream Center’s approach of letting the community inform what services they provide, and the new facility they opened in 2016.   

A story of extreme middle school bullying gives hope to other victims

My guess is that most of our listeners have heard about the sexual assault case involving junior varsity football players at Damascus Senior High – an assault that one prosecutor described as “astonishingly cruel.”  While it’s easy to dismiss such occurrences as extreme and rare, it does beg the question, is this evidence of a much broader culture of abuse and bullying in our schools? 

Tonight’s guest is here to answer that question.  Just a few years ago, Knott Kavanaugh was the target of never-ending abuse at the hands of fellow students at a Fairfax County middle school.  The bullying got so bad, and the teacher apathy so persistent, that he attempted suicide at age 13.  After Knott’s mom pulled him out of the school and became a home schooler, Knott wrote a book about his experiences as part of a class assignment.  When he saw the affect his story had on other bullied children and their unaware parents, he knew he could make a difference by sharing it with people – and he’s here to do that tonight.  We’re also joined by Knott’s mom who will give us a parent’s perspective on bullying. 

Surfing North Korea, and other stories from inside the DPRK

Tonight’s guest, Gabe Segoine, was born in Maui and grew up in California.  At age 19, he moved back to Maui to live what he calls the dream surfer life, but he realized after six years that he was miserable.  Following a series of life-changing events, Gabe found himself in North Korea where he was working to bring clean water, heating coal, medicine, and other necessities to its people.  When he saw some waves he asked about surfing and the rest, as they say, is history.  Gabe has been to North Korea 18 times since that original trip and founded Love North Korea Ministries, a faith-based nonprofit dedicated to helping the people of North Korea improve their lives – and surf!  He recently published a book about his experiences entitled, Surfing North Korea: And Other Stories from Inside.  Gabe joins us to talk about the love he’s developed for the people of North Korea, the challenges Westerners face working in their country, and misconceptions about North Koreans, their government, and its relationship with the West. 

The radical prison transformation of a violent white supremacist

Russ Kloskin grew up in a family marked by violence, drug use, and poverty.  At age seven his mom got him high on marijuana, and at age 11 she took him with her to perform a burglary.  At age 12 he was arrested for the first time, and at age 15 he was arrested for armed robbery and tried and convicted as an adult.  Russ would spend 27 of the next 35 years in prison where he became a member of the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas, one of the most violent white supremacist prison gangs in the U.S., briefly rising to the level of President during the late 90s.  During a 7-year stint in solitary confinement, Russ began to see the anger and rage that had come to fill his heart and radically changed his life.  He joins us to talk about his experiences and the work he is now doing to help prisoners successfully re-integrate with society when they are released.

Welcoming hungry, exhausted, and distressed refugees along our Southern border

A caravan is headed to our Southern border, and it’s filled with criminals and terrorists bent on invading our country.  At least that’s what the highest level of our government is telling us.  But is that the real story?  Tonight, we’ll get a report from the front lines of the immigrant surge that started four years ago.  We’re joined by Sister Norma Pimentel, the executive director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley in Brownsville, Texas who helped organize their response to the 2014 surge of Central Americans seeking asylum in the United States.  Sister Pimentel is a 2018 Hispanic Heritage Award recipient, an award established by the Reagan administration, and the 2018 recipient of the Laetare Medal at Notre Dame University’s commencement ceremony honoring her work with migrants and refugees, the highest and oldest award given to a U.S. Catholic each year.  Sister Pimentel joins us to talk about her experiences working with refugees and seeing God himself in them.