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.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Lent Devotional #1.5: Death and Resurrection

As I was thinking about my first Lenten Devotional, I sensed a need to take the verse from 2 Corinthians 8:9 one step further, completing this amazing story of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. Whereas the last devotional focused more on Jesus’ life, here I will try and draw upon His death and resurrection.

The last day of my homeless experience was a Sunday morning, and though like the other mornings I was kicked out at 6:30am, this particular morning I did not leave alone. I had invited one of the guests, a 53 year old African man from Nigeria to come out with me to my apartment in the suburbs and have a place to catch up on some sleep, take a shower, do his laundry, and eat a home cooked meal (though nothing like what my mom can make).

It was through my experience of living in the same dorm with this man for four days, along with the last year of volunteering on a weekly basis, that I was able to develop enough trust for him to come stay with me for a day. In addition to caring for his physical needs, I also invited my friend to church with me that Sunday morning, but he chose to stay at the apartment for two reasons. First off, he needed to sleep (only having gotten 3-4 hours of sleep the previous four nights), and he knew that he would have dosed off during church anyway. Secondly, though having spent a good part of his life in the church, including teaching a Sunday school class, he had recently been hurt by the church and had been struggling with his faith and trust in God’s people. But needless to say, he appreciated my invitation for him to come stay with me for a day, leaving much more refreshed and revitalized.

And now for the parallel. If I were to have stayed at the shelter, living as each of the others, then I would have in essence been neglecting to share the numerous material resources (shelter, shower, food, laundry) as well as spiritual resources (my church community and personal faith) with any of the men. And the same would have been true with Jesus had he just died and not risen to His rightful position in Heaven. You see, it was through His death and resurrection that He was able to effectively bring others into the Kingdom of God to share in His Glorious inheritance. The burden of sin was set free, and the way to the Father made clear. Though not attained on our own, we have been invited into and offered accordingly the invaluable gift of eternal life. When we see it like this, it is a truly remarkable story!

But what is the Church, and we as members of the Church, to take from this? I suggest that through my own experience and the experience of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we must continue to be called out of our lives of comfort and control into lives of service and sacrifice. In doing so, we will break down barriers and stereotypes (to be talked about in a later reflection) in order to join God in his work of inviting others into a relationship with Him. As a professor suggested in class today, quite in line with Jesus’ own ministry and parables, it is to those on the margins of society that we must take this invitation, and of those from whom the banquet guests will be!

May we be filled with His mission and His purpose during this Lenten season, and take some time to reflect once more upon this verse to which our focus has been given:

"For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich."- 2 Corinthians 8:9

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