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, December 29, 2011

Windows into the Kingdom of God: How Global Exposures Strengthen Local Ministry Practice (KoG: Part I)

Here is a paper I wrote during seminary regarding traveling abroad and the Republic of Georgia. One of my better reflections if I had to say :)  I am posting these and some from my trip to Costa Rica in preparation for my next venture to the Philippines.  It is good sometimes to look back and see where we've been in order to help us figure out where we are going.  I will break it into a few parts to make it easier to read.

Windows into the Kingdom of God: How Global Exposures Strengthen Local Ministry Practice (Intro)
July 15, 2008
Professor: Dr. John Sundquist
ME 512 Experiencing World Christianity: Study and Travel the Republic of Georgia

According to Eastern Orthodox expressions of Christianity, icons, or “written” art work portraying Biblical passages and truths, are Windows into Heaven that bring the Christ-follower deeper into the spiritual realm.  According to Elizabeth Zelensky and Lela Gilbert, “because Christ, the second member of the Holy Trinity, took on human flesh, the material realm has been elevated to the same level of importance as the spiritual realm.”  (Zelensky 23)  Though at first uncertain and simply uneducated about such expressions of worship, after taking a ten day trip to the Republic of Georgia where we daily experienced this sort of veneration through icons, I can say that my spirit was in fact strengthened by iconography in worship.

Even more than this one exposure to the international body of Christ however, I felt that my encounter with the Baptist Church in Georgia as a whole was in fact a Window into the Kingdom of God that I would not have experienced were it simply done in a classroom in Lombard, Illinois.  And the same explanation as the icons can hold true: it is because Christ, through leaving the spiritual realm and becoming flesh, took on a local expression of faith that we can gain insights from other regions of the world to further our understanding of the Kingdom of God.

I first realized the advantage of experiencing global Christianity through being in the field as opposed to sitting in the classroom while sitting around the table in a town called Honig on the western side of the Republic of Georgia.  As we listened to the stories of men and women who had lost all they had (some of them even their lives) after being displaced from their home region of Abkazia to this refugee village in Khoni, I realized I’d never be able to experience the emotional and physical ramifications of their story through simply reading a book.  And I’d never be able to capture the spiritual zeal they had for the Lord despite hardship by reading a book either; they met every day in homes throughout the village and showed more hospitality relative to what they had than I may ever experience in my life.  I made a toast that night to this new insight while sitting around the table as their hospitality filled my stomach, mind, and spirit, and I write this paper now as a toast to the insights and tools I gained from my ten day immersion in the Republic of Georgia.

A while back I read a book titled God’s Global Mosaic, which described various aspects of God and the church that are expressed in six or seven different regions of the world.  I have had the chance to travel to a number of these regions, experiencing the celebratory spirit of Latin America, the perseverance of the church in Africa, and the grandeur of the church in Europe.  It was in Georgia however that I was able to experience the mysterious nature of God in Christ.  More specifically, I was stimulated (“aha” moments if you will) by the unique blends of Georgian Baptist worship, as well as the way they do church, particularly dealing with the house church movement where much of their growth has come from.  It makes most sense to first describe what it was we experienced and then share how I hope these experiences can apply to my own context back here in the states.

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