Brief Bio

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Quezon City, Metro-Manila, Philippines
I am a runner, pastor, sociologist, teacher, and missionary. After living in Chicago for 6 years, I discerned a call to go to Manila, Philippines to live and work among the urban poor, and combine my passions for ministry, running, and the oppressed. After serving in the Philippines in 2012 and 2013, I returned to the United States for two years to finish my dissertation, get ordained, spend time with my family, and work at a neighborhood center in Kansas City. Since then, I have been working in the Philippines with Companion With the Poor as a missionary. Each day I look forward to how God will direct my steps as I live into His work of restoring a broken world.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

a Journalist, a Miracle, and a Mission

Thursday, September 13, 2007

I went back to the shelter tonight. But this time not as a full-time volunteer at the shelter and as an official volunteer coach of Chicago Hope's cross country team. Last Sunday was my last day of my three week committment to volunteering at the shelter full-time (taking night and morning shifts), but though I am not working any shifts, I am still going in to help with opening from 7:30pm-9:30pm every now and then. I am also helping volunteer with the cross country team at Hope Academy a couple times a week - including seeing their meet on the south side of Chicago on Tuesday night.

Tonight was a rather unsettling night at the shelter for many reasons.

First of all, there was a journalist from the Chicago Sun-Times that came in to observe the opening, with a specific goal of interviewing those who had to be turned away. The article is going to be a response from a previous Sun-Times article that mis-estimated the number of homeless in Chicago being only 24 people (about 20,000 people off). Though having good intentions, and being able to experience 6 women turned away (the most I have seen since volunteering at the shelter), there is no telling how the journalist will describe his experience - a few of the women turned away tonight were unappropriately complaining about the shelter to the journalist. Beyond this, there was a man being rude at the door during men's opening, trying to convince us to let him find a friend in the shelter who supposedly had his T.V. The problem was he did not know his "friends" name so we couldn't just let him in (we exhibit a considerable amount of trusts with the guests but at times must be a little more stern and cautious). I also had an unsettling conversation with a man named Robert who, according to his and "his websights" interpretation of the Bible, is one of a handful (literally not more than 5) of people considered righteous by the Lord in the whole world - saying that there was no hope for the other 200 men standing outside the shelter waiting to get in for the night. I pray that some day he may be released from the lie he is believing in and experience God's love to it's fullest. And I pray for further conversations I have with him. He is the second guest now that I have recieved some very distorted theology from - maybe I will pursue my idea of starting a Bible study amonst the guests (Alpha perhaps?).

Beyond being unsettled, I did have some encouraging conversations and experiences tonight. First of all, the conversation with Robert alowed me to share the gospel with Daniel (one of the shelter full-time volunteers), though I am going to have to follow it up sometime because I shared it as more of a story rather than a loving action. I was also able to give Ade a pair of shoes to replace his shoes with holes in them (which may be more of a blessing than I thought because it might raid tomorrow); get Keith some Advil from my car because he was feeling and sounding sick (probably because of the weather change); and bring the water out to the 12 guys waiting to get in; only 6 of them did get in. As for conversations, I got to talk with Cedric a little more today and suggest we go out for lunch and a movie sometime next week; I got to talk with Mary Beth (case manager) and Eric (supervisor) about Mary Beth's trip in a week to Germany to see some of the previous shelter volunteers; and best of all I got to have a conversation with Christian Sosa.

Talking with Christain and simply seeing him was the highlight of the night. He looked amazing! Christian is a guy I met a few weeks back, myself getting to be the guy who helped orient him to the shelter rules and system on his first night at the shelter. I guess he had stayed at other shelters in the past, but decided to try the Franciscan Outreach Association. When I first met him, he had scruffy and long head and facial hair, torn and dirty clothes that were to big for him (one lady even complained to us that he was walking around with no belt which made his pants keep falling down over his butt - I gave him my belt), shoes that were to big and giving him blisters, and few to no possessions. The first night he came late so I got him a sandwich from the kitchen that he devoured and I took care of getting him a towel, soap, and a toothbrush to clean up with. I also had to get him bandaids because his heels were bleading from the blisters caused by his shoes. Needless to say, he was the "least of these" that Jesus said when we serve we are serving Jesus himself. Following the first night Christian came consistantly for about a week, during which I bought him a hot dog (the last one!) and drink at the football game. Christian was also very shy, always walking with his head down and not liking to sit next to or talk with anyone. Again he was at the shelter for about a week. The last day I saw him before tonight was about two weeks ago, a night that I invited him to join Katie, Heidi, Dennis (two of which were also guests who recently have got their own places) to go to lunch and a movie the following day. But the next day he was not at the shelter when I went to pick him up for the movie; it was as if he just disappeared - I figured maybe had just gone to another shelter or something. That was then... but tonight... HE WAS A NEW MAN! He had his hair cut, his beard trimmed real nice, his clothes clean and new, his stature tall and proud, and his smile and voice strong. He even had good shoes. I couldn't believe it, having a great conversation with him and again inviting him to lunch and a movie (maybe with Cedric, Marvin, Ade, and Carmelo too). I found out from him and others that he had been in the hospital for the last two weeks, getting his heels worked on, and being put in the psych ward where I guess he had got some medicine and good counceling. Then when he got out he got a hair cut and some new clothes, and also knows what he wants to do for a job - reasearch! While I sound excited and am, I also have to realize things are hardly ever "permanent" on the streets, so I must take advantage of the chance to encourage him and keep him going in the direction he is going. And if he does not go to church or does not know the Lord, this would be a great time to point to God's love for his life, even what God has done in the last two weeks. I pray I may be available to God in this endevor but realize it is God who will take care of the details.

Something else I realized tonight is that I need some help with all the things I want to address at the shelter. I can't do it by myself. As of now, I would love to see the following: a prayer meeting with all the churches of the area immediately around the shelter/Hope Academy to pray for the neighborhood (maybe once a week); a Bible study, again possibly Alpha, with the guests who want to sign up (this would be once a week for 10 weeks with a retreat! on week 6 which would be great in many ways for the guests); programed activities like going to a ballgame, a museum, a movie, or even the zoo; an organization called Hope Exchange (the reason I am starting this blog); a tailgate cookout for the guests before the October 2nd Chicago Hope Academy home football game; a church at Chicago Hope Academy's chapel on Saturday nights (or Alpha course at first?); a Koinonia community with 5-10 young adults who want to live radical lives for Jesus Christ (this may be the exact help I am looking for - outside of maybe getting some donors); a softball league with the homeless people.

Needless to say, it was an exhilerating and again God-filled night. My prayer tonight will be for both my friends in the shelter and my friends outside of the shelter - and that Hope Exchange may be a bridge between the two. I also pray that God reveals 5-10 other radical Christians that will commit to living in community next year near the shelter. So be it; amen!

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