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.
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 65 countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, and Asia, 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." 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 majority."
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.
Paul has won several awards for his writing and photography, including the top annual photography award of the United Methodist Association of Communicators (14 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 Goodman.
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 Religion.
Missionary Code # 009541-2NZ
updated jan 2013