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.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Relational Refugees

I read a book recently in a class in Pastoral Care called Relational Refugees that connects well with the idea of exchanging hope. Below is my reflection on the book...

This book by Edward P. Wimberly helped put to words the model and theology of ministry that I have been developing over the last few years. For the last three years I have been volunteering at a homeless shelter on Chicago’s west side. During that time, I have had the chance to meet many amazing individuals, and at the same time many individuals who fit well Wimberly’s description of a ‘relational refugee.’ For reasons of violence, bad parenting, job loss, drugs, or abuse (like are mentioned in the later chapters in the book) these men and women have found themselves in either short term or long term homelessness.

Throughout the last three years, I have been involved in many forms of ministry to the homeless. It has been as simple as passing out clothes or food, to now running a warming center cafĂ© on Friday nights where the homeless, members from my church, and people from the community come together to interact and grow together in their relationships. I was called out about a year ago by one of our professors at Northern that one cannot minister effectively to the homeless, or really to ‘relational refugees,’ by themselves. It takes a community (or village as Wimberly calls it) to effectively transform the homeless into mature men and women of God who can function in society the way God intended them too (this goes for many who aren't homeless too - it is what discipleship is all about!).

Wimberly says on p. 34 that “In a strong relationship with a skilled mentor or mentors, relational refugees are drawn back into nurturing community and are enabled to develop a healthy sense of self in the context of others.” This, in addition to “help(ing) those who feel homeless find an emotional, relational, spiritual, and cognitive home” (I would add ‘home in the church,’ which is Christ’s body), is how pastoral care must happen.
I am currently thinking through what it would look like for our church to mentor three or four men from the shelter, and maybe two or three women, using this model that Wimberly suggests. Four years ago I developed a ministry idea called Hope Exchange that would help place homeless guests into churches for mentoring relationships like this. It would, in effect provide hope for the homeless and hope for those in the local congregations.

This last point is important not to miss, and could be another post in itself. As my friend reminds me frequently, we must not forget in all of this that these ‘relational refugees’ also have a lot to teach us in the church, and when successfully integrated back into the church and community can make great mentors themselves!

1 comment:

Carrie said...

Nice reflections, Paul... Where do you go to school? I see "Northern"... not sure what that is, though. :) I'm excited about your Intersection Cafe initiative. Looking forward to being a part of that some time!

grace and peace...