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.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Ministry of Enough

This is and will by no means be a complete thought. I have often written out different visions and dreams that come to me, including the one when I was in Chicago to have and live in a Christian community house someday, and God allowed that to happen and even continue after I left Chicago over a year ago.

This one includes the idea of starting a ministry that I would call "The Ministry of Enough."

I have been spending a lot of time recently in a community on the outskirts of Metro-Manila that is a relocaiton site for many of the squatters being moved out of Manila due to flooding, fires, evacuation, etc. I am hoping to move there this coming January. While I have been helping with a church plant with Mission Ministries Philippines, a ministry also committed to providing for the 'felt' needs of the community, including education, health care, housing, and food and clothes, I have been thinking a lot about how those with more than "enough" can help those with less than "enough." Here I am talking about material and basic necessities, though I believe in many ways these people I have been serving have much more to offer me (especially about thankfulness, community, love, life, etc.) than I have to offer them.

But I do think those of us with more than enough when it comes to these basic needs (health care, food, clothes, shelter, education) have a responsibility to share with those who don't have enough.

My idea for a ministry is two fold. And in many ways it is not much different from many other redistribution ministries and organizations around the world. First, it would be finding long term solutions to helping provide the basic needs to families and individuals in the relocation area I am in, and other urban poor areas in Manila and around the world. MMP, the organization I work with, has already been doing this through scholarships, feeding programs, medical missions, and small income generating projects. One thing I would like to add to this list is helping provide small business loans to some of the women in the community, including a widow who is part of our church.  My biggest desire includes helping these families and individuals stay in the relocation area, as many of them, due to lack of a job and family income, end up having to sell their home and move back into a new squatter community in the city.

Second, I want to challenge those here in the Philippines, from my own country (USA), and from around the world who have "more than enough", to really evaluate and ask themselves whether or not having more than enough is God's desire for them when so many don't even have enough. I've started this process myself, getting rid of the things I have two of, donating my books and movies that I'm not using to a library to be used by many people, and giving away the things I'm not using or don't need (it is true that it is better to give than receive!). One of our mission directors has asked us to ask the question, "What can I live without?" Then to ask what the very basics that we can't live without are. Another mentor of mine asked his church back in New Zealand once to give away or sell half of what they had, and then give it to or redistribute it to the poor (in response to the Scripture about Lazarus the tax collector). While I think these things can be applied to the rich, I also believe the poor can participate in these processes too, as I've noticed even they often hoard or have many things they don't need or use (which can be turned into money for their basic needs or shared with others that have a need/use for those things).

I know this process is not easy (I can speak from experience here), and, like I mentioned in a Facebook post recently, this will be much more difficult for some (particularly those who have 10 times, if not 100 times, more than they need). I'm honestly not sure what to say to people who have a home that is much larger than they need, other than to ask if they could section it off to let other families or individuals live with them, or to use it as a place of shelter to the homeless, or a place for numerous activities and events during the week. [I'm encouraged by my own family here back home, as my parents are letting a couple stay in their basement, my sister is sharing her house with two other single girls, and my brother and his wife are sharing an apartment with another couple.] I think these decisions and more should be made, and can be made, in order to free up resources for those who don't have enough. I realize some will always have more, and some less, but God's desire is for us to live much more in balance with each other and creation than we do today.

Again, I know this is not necessarily a new thought, but I know it is one thing (especially part 2 of this challenge), that I don't hear many people in the States willing to talk about or deal with. The reality is that many of us who have more than enough (and even the poor that can have similar habits of splurging or hoarding) live in greed and gluttony on a daily basis. And often it leads to a state of comfort and security that is incredibly hard to break. However, the challenge and process, though painful, is incredibly freeing and life giving. Those who participate in it get to experience the joy of giving, and I truly believe, especially if motivated by a desire to grow closer to the Lord and more in unity with the Body of Christ around the world, they will experience a deeper relationship with the Lord and understanding of His Kingdom. May God go before us in this work!

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