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, March 26, 2012

Lenten Devotionals...2012: A Call to Servanthood, Poverty, Compassion, and the Cross

So I'm not sure if I have many thoughts to add this Lenten season.  I obviously have had many thoughts over the past few weeks, but they seem to be all jumbled up in my head, heart, and soul.  Lord willing, He will bring clarity to my thoughts over the coming weeks and months as I continue to humble myself before Him and the Filipino people, and continue to seek Him in the faces of the poor, hurting, and lonely; as well as the faithful, spiritually rich, and those to whom the Kingdom belongs.

I feel the most clear way to express my thoughts from the past weeks actually comes from some devotional readings from Henri Nouwen that I have been reflecting on this lenten season.

These short devotionals come from a small booklet called "Christ Our Hope: Daily Lenten Devotions."  These have been water for my soul over the past weeks, and have helped me make sense out of the poverty and wealth, suffering and joy, deceit and faithfulness, and pollution and parks that I've witnessed over the last two months here in the Philippines.  I hope these will encourage you this Lenten season as they have me.

Make Me a Servant (Sunday, Fifth Week of Lent)

Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also.  
Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.  - John 12:26

O Lord, this holy season of Lent is passing quickly.  I entered into it with fear, but also with great expectations...Let me be thankful for your gentle way. I know you are at work. I know you will not leave me alone. I know you are quickening me for Easter - but in a way fitting to my own history and my own temperament.

I pray that these last...weeks, in which you invite me to enter more fully into the mystery of your passion, will bring me a greater desire to follow you on the way that you create for me and to accept the cross that you give to me. Let me died to the desire to choose my own way and select my own cross. You do not want to make me a hero but a servant who loves you.

Let me serve you, heavenly Father, as your Son, Jesus, served you.

A Place of Surrender, Mercy (Wednesday, Fourth Week of Lent)

Do not, O LORD, withhold your mercy from me...keep me safe forever. -Psalm 40:11

Every time we think we have touched a place of poverty, we will discover greater poverty beyond that place. There is really no way back to riches, wealth, success, acclaim, and prizes. Beyond physical poverty there is mental poverty, beyond mental poverty there is spiritual poverty and beyond that there is nothing, nothing but the naked trust that God is mercy.

It is not a way we can walk alone. Only with Jesus can we go to the place where there is nothing but mercy. It is the place from which Jesus cried, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" It is the place from which Jesus was raised up to new life.

The way of Jesus can be walked only with Jesus.  If I want to do it alone, it becomes a form of inverse heroism as fickle as heroism itself. Only Jesus, the Son of God, can walk to that place of total surrender and mercy.

Dear God, show me mercy, keep me safe.

Restoring Our Souls (Monday, Fifth Week of Lent)

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;
he restores my soul. - Psalm 23:1-3

For a long time, I prayed the words, "The Lord is my shepherd..." I prayed these words in the morning for half an hour sitting quietly on my chair trying only to keep my mind focused on what I was saying. I prayed them during the many moments of the day when I was going here or there, and I even prayed them during my routine activities. The words stand in stark contrast to the reality of my life. I want many things; I see mostly busy roads and ugly shopping malls; and if there are any waters to walk along they are mostly polluted. But I keep saying: "The Lord is my shepherd..." and allow God's shepherding love to enter more fully into my heart, I become more fully aware that the busy roads, the ugly malls and the polluted waterways are not telling the true story of who I am. I do not belong to the powers and principalities that rule the world but to the Good Shepherd who knows his own and is known by his own.

You are my shepherd, loving God. Restore my soul.

The Call of Compassion (Friday, Fourth Week of Lent)

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted,
and saves the crushed in spirit. - Psalm 34:18

Can we be compassionate to those whose suffering remains hidden from the eyes of the world? There is much hidden suffering; the suffering of a teenager who does not feel secure; the suffering of the husband and wife who feel that there is no love left between them; the suffering of the wealthy executive who thinks that people are more interested in his money that in him; the suffering of the gay man or woman who feels isolated from family and friends; the suffering of the countless people who lack caring friends, satisfying work, a peaceful home, a safe neighborhood; the suffering of millions who feel lonely and wonder if life is worth living.

Once we look downward instead of upward on the ladder of life, we see the pain of people wherever we go, and we hear the call of compassion wherever we are.

Hold me in your heart, loving Lord. Save me when my spirit is crushed.

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