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, July 10, 2016

My Dad, The Miracle Worker (On His 60th Birthday!)

For my Dad's 60th Birthday, I wanted to write a short tribute. I have actually been trying to write something over the last few weeks (even since Father's Day this year), but am just now being able to put words on a page. I am not able to be with my dad for his birthday this year (one of the few things I couldn't reconcile after deciding to come back to the Philippines this past May). That said, I was able to take him out to a Cubs baseball game before I left (during a better part of the season to watch a Cubs game :) ), and left a little gift with my mom before I left to give him at his party. If nothing else, I know writing this has blessed me in remembering these things about my dad. I hope too that it might be a blessing to him, and others who read it. I love you dad! Happy Birthday.  

The Miracle Worker:
Thoughts on My Dad's 60th Birthday

“Truly, truly, I tell you, whoever believes in Me will also do the works that I am doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” – John 14:12

Mother Teresa used to say that the greatest miracles are small things done with great love. “We can do no great things. Only small things with great love.” I've often thought that this is the best way to describe my dad. A person who has done many small things, for thousands of people, for 60 years, with great love! When added up, all these small things would make my dad one big Miracle Worker.

As I think of ways to categorize my dad’s legacy up to this point (we're all hoping still for another 60 years!), it would be as a PK (Pastor's Kid), Husband, Doctor, Father, and Ministry Worker.

Pastor's Kid
“Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” – Matthew 12:48-50

If Jesus had children I think he would have included here sons and daughters. In this way too, like he does in the passage regarding his mother and brothers, he would be teaching people that it is those who do God's will that are His children. Like when the Bible says not all who descended from Abraham are his children, but only those who are children of the promise. This said, not every pastor's kid ends up like their father and mother. And just because one's parents are Christians doesn't mean the person themselves will become a Christian. Thankfully though, this was not the case with my dad. By God's grace, my dad followed in the footsteps of his father and mother, also becoming a Christian, and then passing that faith onto my siblings and I. 

I think the biggest thing that has shaped my dads life (he may disagree with me, but this is my reflection :) ) was his parents. During college and the years following, I used to describe my life and faith in terms of my relationship with Jesus that started when I was a child. But after going to the Philippines for the first time, I began to see my life, my faith, and my calling in relationship to my family, including my Grandfather (my dad’s dad) who was one of the first Christians in his family, who passed that faith onto my father, and then on to me. 

While my dad has been able to create his own identity over the course of his life, apart from his parents, he and I owe so much to them for raising him in the church and teaching him the good news of Jesus and the gospel. Not only this, but they also taught him the value of a good education, and the importance of being connected to God's work in the world, two things that were also passed onto my siblings and I as well.

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” – Ephesians 5:25-27
I think this is something that I will appreciate more if/when I get married, but as somebody who has studied and experienced the relationship between Jesus and His Bride, the church, and witnessed the relationships of many other couples throughout my life, I can say that my dad is a good husband. He is not perfect, but he has set an example for me and many others about what it means to love and commit to another person. In fact, during my formative years, my dad tried to teach me the value of commitment. I think his best attempt to teach me this has been his commitment to my mom. And for this I, and many others I'm sure, am incredibly grateful!

“Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’?  But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “Get up, take your mat and go home.” Then the man got up and went home.” – Matthew 9:5-7

When people ask me about my experience of growing up with a father who was a doctor I usually tell them the following. 90% of the time (or even 95%), if I came to him with a medical issue, he would tell me to take some Tylenol or Advil. And 99% of those times, I would get better. That said, it was during the 5-10% of the time when basic medicine didn't help that I'm glad he was a doctor. And even more so that he knew when I or one of my siblings needed a specialist, and needed to go to the hospital.

While my grandfather was a pastor of the heart and mind, I always tell people my dad is a pastor of the whole body. He really is a minister when it comes to his work as a doctor. Just as Jesus is the Great Physician. I overheard a conversation my dad had recently with another colleague of his, and he was magnificent! The way he defended holistic health care, that is, medicine that cares for the whole person, and for the doctors, nurses, and employees, brought joy to my heart. In an age where medicine is more of a business than a ministry, my dad continues to believe in its multi-dimensional purposes. For this too, I am thankful.

“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.” – Ephesians 6:4

Maybe what I can speak most to about my dad (since this is the context in which I saw him the most), is as my father. Despite being a doctor, my dad seems to be in nearly every memory I have of my family while growing up. He was always there at the dinner table. Always there at my sporting events. And always there at church. Not to mention our extended family dinners or holidays, our road trips, and our school events. I said recently on Facebook that I am spoiled because of all of my friends and family who have given their lives to the Lord and serve Him through being peacemakers and reconcilers in the world. I must also say here that I am spoiled in having had (and still having) an amazing father! As with the verse in Ephesians says, my dad has brought me (and my siblings) up “in the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.” This is something I’ll never be able to repay him for. Except maybe if I have children of my own someday :) .

Ministry Worker
“Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave. As you enter the home, give it your greeting. If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. – Matthew 10:11-13

Finally, my dad is a ministry worker. This term comes from the churches here in the Philippines, and is applied to people in the church who aren’t necessarily elders, deacons, or pastors (though they can be and often are), but are people who are always serving the church through various ministries. I imagine over the last 60 years, my dad has done a little of everything in the church. From teaching children, youth, and adults, leading mission trips, preaching, being an usher, deacon, and elder, singing in the choir, participating on a pastoral search committee, cutting the grass, designing the worship space, being a janitor, etc. I’m actually not sure there is anything he hasn’t done! 

As a pastor and missionary myself (who also likes to think of himself as a jack of all trades), I wonder if it wasn't his example that I have taken after the most. It has been his willingness to serve in any and every capacity that is needed that has rubbed off on me the most. And then, it is probably the many years at Judson Baptist Church when I was in middle school and high school, not to mention all the years around the dinner table while growing up, that my dad taught me the most about serving Jesus and loving the church. And then, even more, it is his love for the Scriptures (reading a passage from the Old Testament, New Testament, and Psalm every day), that has also encouraged me in my faith. 

All in all, my dad will be sure to hear the words one day, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

Happy 60th Birthday Dad!!!

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