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, December 26, 2011

Less than 1 Month until Departure!

It is less than one month from when I'll be leaving for Manila! I've finished up classes in LA, moved out of my place in Koreatown, and am back in Illinois for a short break before heading out. The ticket is bought, my visa and passport ready, my support is coming in, and I've just got some small details to finish up before being ready to leave.

Before going further, I want to say a big THANK YOU to all those who have already taken the step of faith to support me on this journey. 

While the support goes beyond financial provision, I recognize the sacrifice it is to write a check or make a promise to support me monthly while I'm in the Philippines. So to those who have supported financially, THANK YOU. To those who are not able to provide financial support, I also want to THANK YOU for your prayers, encouragement, and support. I have created a Prayer Support group on Facebook where you can follow my prayer requests and pray for me while I'm in Manila. I've also got prayer magnets that I'll be sending out in the mail, so if you're not on my list to receive one, let me or my sister know, and I'll be happy to send you one. Any Scripture or encouragement you can send while I'm over seas will be great too. I'll do my best to keep you all up to date with new developments and even with what the Lord has been teaching me.

Speaking about what God has been teaching me, here are ten paradigm shifts that I experienced over the last few months in class. My professor, Viv Grigg, said that beyond the grades and papers and assignments, it is these paradigm shifts that provide the greatest growth in education, especially when lived out and shared with others. I will be trying to write blogs about each one separately, but hopefully this gives you a little idea into what I've been learning and will continue to learn...

Paradigm Shifts (Fall 2011, MATUL, Azusa Pacific University)

1. Kingdom of God and Salvation - The gospel is good news about the Kingdom of God, not just salvation, which is entry into the Kingdom.

2. Oral vs Literate Cultures - The majority of the worlds population lives in oral cultures, not literate cultures. Because of this, we must learn to tell stories and listen to others stories as a means of preaching (rather than 3 point sermons) and evangelism.

3. Holistic Discipleship - When we talk of discipleship, we usually think in terms of spiritual discipleship. Yet, much of Jesus' teaching was also about economics, social, and justice issues, as was much of the rest of Scripture. While the spiritual must be primary, we can, and must also teach economic and social discipleship, with both the rich and poor alike.

4. Holistic Evangelism (Justice, Spiritual, Economic/Environmental, Psycho-Social) - Like the above paradigm shift, we can use these other areas of life to evangelize, particularly with those who reject spiritual matters. The goal would be eventual conversion, but the process of getting there must not be limited to the spiritual.

5. Doing Evangelism to the maximum, doing Justice to the maximum - While there has typically been a dichotomy between Evangelism and Justice, there has been a recent uprising around the world in the church to do both to the max!

6. Gospel different to the rich and the poor alike - The gospel, though rooted in Christ's life, death, and resurrection, has different implications to the rich and poor. To the rich, it is a call to either sell all you have, sell half, or at least live simply so that others may simply live. To the poor, the gospel requires one to give up addictions, feelings of hopelessness, and believe in a God who is a liberator, compassionate, caring, and love.

7. Faces, not Numbers - At a conference on being a "sticky church," a pastor of a mega church said that rather than counting numbers they count faces and names.  That way, they can do a better job at keeping people from leaving out the back door, and can work at developing and loving the people who come in, rather than just always looking for new people to fill their pews and having a rotating door.

8. Grow and Serve Groups - A church I was part of, New City Church LA, launched new small groups this fall that they called "Grow and Serve Groups." These groups were holistic in that they spent an hour studying the Scriptures together and praying, then an hour going out and serving the community. This provides a great action/reflection model for churches and small groups that I hope would catch on!

9. God’s Curriculum (Do Justice, Love Mercy, Walk Humbly With Our God) - A missionary, pastor, and professor from India told us that he teaches his students and congregants that as a Christian, our curriculum is to Do Justice, Love Mercy, and Walk Humbly with our God. We can't just choose one or two, but all are called to all three. Thus, churches must be places that can train, encourage, and equip people for these three things.

10. Missions Goes from the Powerless to the Powerful - All throughout history and the Scriptures, movements have come through the Spirit of God working through the powerless to the powerful. The gospel, even as proclaimed by Jesus in Luke 4, is to preach the good news "to the poor," a line we often leave out but was central to Jesus' mission (in the same way that it was God's in the Old Testament). So too, the church must take the gospel to the poor and powerless, which will always then find its way to the powerful as well.

Until next time...Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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