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.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

"Beautiful Eyes"

November 14, 2007

I would have expected a scar at least, if not a mark so bad that he could not see out of one eye; this of the always first through the door MC 24.

MC 24 is one of the homeless guests at the Franciscan House of Mary and Joseph, a homeless shelter on the near west side of Chicago. He is a moderately heavy set man, African American, and always wearing sunglasses. His presence demands utmost respect, especially from the volunteer working the morning shift when at 5:00am every morning he notions to us to open the garage so he can ride off on his bike with a flashing light on the front. The rumor among the volunteers and staff is that he was at one time a gang leader in Chicago, and because of that no one dares mess with him. While the standard procedure is to let the regulars in first (40 guys who have been at the shelter for more than 6 months and are able to be trusted), for some reason they (and the shelter staff) know to let MC 24 (24 for the bed # he sleeps in every night) in first. He goes straight in without getting food, does a few things in the bathroom, and then sits on the edge of his bed with his sunglasses still on until the lights go off. And if the lights are not off by 9:30pm like is procedure, he will be the first to let us know, allowing him to roll over, take off his sunglasses and go to sleep.

But when he looked at me (after flagging me down with his own flashlight), asking me for a skull cap and sox, I couldn’t help but notice how beautiful his eyes and face were without the sunglasses. I’m not usually one to point out or comment on eyes, let alone describe a 60 year old man’s eyes as “beautiful,” but I don’t think I will every look at anyone’s eyes the same way again. God created MC with an attractive face; the world has imposed on him an image and reputation that has hidden that which God created. I wonder what other things have been hidden in MC because of his reputation and image. Like creativity, laughter, love, compassion, and genius. It’s apparent that he has some leadership skills because of the respect he has received from his work with the gang; but what if those skills were used to better society instead of tear it down. And what is more, who are we to say that the world didn’t tear him down first; what if the world had lifted him up instead.

I know most of this is speculation. I’m actually not sure if any of the full time volunteers have ever had a conversation with him; or Father Larry and many of the guests for that matter. I wonder what it would be like to be his case manager. I can say that there is a person under those shades though. A person, that is, created in God’s image, and a person created with God’s eyes!

1 comment:

Dan said...

It's a very different perspective you bring, Paul. I hope that you continue writing, and not because it's a fad, but because we will benefit from it.