The Rev. Paul Jeffrey is a United Methodist missionary who writes about
the work of the church around the world as senior correspondent for Response, the magazine of United
Methodist Women. Paul also provides coverage of emergencies for the ACT Alliance, a Geneva-based global
alliance of churches responding to disasters and the long-term challenges of
After living in Central America for 20 years, Paul and his family moved to
the Pacific Northwest in 2004, but his writing continues to focus on similar
themes, including how Christians and Christian communities struggle for
justice and peace in the midst of repression, violence, and rapid economic
and social change.
Paul has filed stories from more than 80 countries, writing about everything
from hurricanes to health care, from massacres to indigenous rights, from
refugees to ecumenism. In the course of his work, Paul has been trapped in
combat, tear-gassed and shot at, taken prisoner by soldiers, beaten by
police, and gotten sick from what he calls "every intestinal disorder
known to modern science." Yet he's also had what he terms the
"privilege of witnessing the poor become subjects of their own history
rather than the objects of someone else's history."
"I often write about what people of faith are doing to empower people at
the margins to live the abundant life that's promised to them in the Gospel.
I focus on why they're doing that and what the consequences of that work may
be for ordinary women and men in the pews," says Paul. "When I do
that well, people in the global north begin to understand how we are
intrinsically linked to our sisters and brothers in the global south, not
just because they share the same Gospel, but also because they share an international
economic system that manufactures poverty and injustice for the
Paul's writing has also appeared in magazines such as the Christian Century
and the National Catholic Reporter. He is the author of Recovering Memory,
a book about the churches' role in the Guatemalan peace process; the book
inspired "Precarious Peace," a documentary video about the church
in Guatemala. He has also written chapters for two different books on the
region, and is coauthor of a study of the effects of Hurricane Mitch on the
economics and political culture of Honduras.
Paul's photos have appeared in countless church and ecumenical publications,
as well as in newspapers such as the Washington Post, Boston Globe, Wall
Street Journal, Toronto Globe and Mail and The Guardian. Magazines such as
Sierra, National Geographic Explorer and Time have featured his images.
Paul’s photos have also been used by organizations ranging from the World
Bank, World Health Organization and UNESCO to the UN Population Fund, World Meteorological
Organization, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and the
Women in War Program of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative. A book with his
photos from the Darfur region of Sudan - Where Mercy Fails -
was published in 2009. A 2011 book on Haiti - Rubble Nation - features his images, as does a book
on poverty – Food
Fight – published in 2015.
Paul has won several awards for his writing and photography, including the
top annual photography award of the United Methodist Association of
Communicators (15 times), the top annual writing award of the same
association (10 times). Four times he has won the Eileen Egan Award for
Journalistic Excellence from Catholic Relief Services. He has received the
top annual magazine photography award of the Associated Church Press, as well
as awards for the best international news writing and the best photo story
from the Catholic Press Association.
Paul has interviewed hundreds of important newsmakers ranging from Jimmy Swaggart to Evo Morales. He has
himself been interviewed by journalists ranging from Bill Moyers to Amy
As part of his assignment with the ACT Alliance, Paul assists in training
nongovernmental organizations in communications strategies and practices to
be implemented following emergencies.
Before his current assignment, Paul and his wife, the Rev. Dr. Lyda Pierce,
served as missionaries in Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Honduras. Lyda is
currently the missionary for development of Hispanic and Latino ministries in
the Pacific Northwest Conference. Paul and Lyda have two adult children,
Lucas and Abigail.
A native of Vancouver, Washington, Paul is an ordained elder in the Pacific
Northwest Annual Conference. He served two rural churches in western
Washington State before moving to Central America in 1984. He has a Bachelor
of Arts in literature and political science from The Evergreen State College
in Olympia, Washington, and a Master of Divinity from Pacific School of
Religion, part of the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. In
2001, Paul and Lyda were named distinguished alums of Pacific School of
Missionary Code # 009541-2NZ