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

What do the Street Kids do?

When I was back in the States this past October and November, visiting friends and family, studying, and sharing about what I've been doing and learning in the Philippines over the last year, I was stopped in my tracks one night while speaking with some middle school kids. After sharing about what I have been doing in Manila, one girl, probably aged 12 or 13, asked me simply, "What do the street children do during the day?"

The question caught me off guard, and I had to think on my feet. How was I supposed to speak on behalf of thousands of homeless children around the world, including my own country, and those sleeping on the streets in Manila? And how was I supposed to communicate the realities of the street to this 12 year old girl, who has likely never met a homeless person (adult or child), let alone realize the difficulties of those on the streets?

I started off by saying that the kids do a lot of the same things the children I was talking with do (I was speaking in my home town). They play with chalk, paint, jump rope, ride bikes, help at their parents jobs, play with their friends, and play in the park. All of these things are true. I noticed each of these things the other day when walking in downtown Manila; and I have played with these children before too.

However, I also shared the other realities of living on the street. I mentioned, in the most humble, sincere, and gentle way I knew how (the last thing I wanted to do was ruin the innocence of these children), that they sometimes are forced to have sex, they will many times get involved in drugs or alcohol, they will beg on the streets just so they can have some food that day, and be forced to do other horrible things just to survive. It is not that children in Springfield, Illinois also don't have difficulties - often times I'm sure physical and sexual abuse, drug use, etc., but at a much lower rate and percentage than those children around the world living on the streets.

After leaving that talk, I met up with my mom and headed over to another talk with some of my parents friends.  Before making it to the next place, I began to cry. Quickly it turned into weeping, and I had to stop for a few minutes. It was the uncontrollable weeping that comes when least expected. I wept for the hundreds of thousands of street children around the world. Especially those trafficked and forced into child prostitution. I wept that their innocence had been taken from them, and that they would grow up, if they ever grew up, having to deal with those horrors from their childhood. As I wept, I had my mom there comforting me. A truly godly woman who has set an example for many other parents in how she has been a mother to my brother, sister, and I. And I had my dad in the next room who has also cared for me the way God intends fathers to nurture and discipline their children.

But these children that I wept for, though many have parents who do care but just don't have the means to provide, experience such trauma at such a young age. I think tonight also of the recent school shooting in Connecticut. More children and even teachers loosing their lives because of the evil that exists in this world.

Today, as I look toward Christmas in just over a week, I remember that Jesus came, as a poor immigrant, born in a manger, and on the margins of society, for each of those children that I wept for. And that He offers salvation and peace to all who would believe in Him - young and old alike. I'm thankful that I came to know that Jesus shortly before turning 10 years old.  And I'm thankful that I have had the chance, as part of the Body of Christ, to introduce Him to people around the world on nearly every continent. We have much to celebrate this Christmas, and yet, much that is left undone until Christ comes again in glory!

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