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Archive for January, 2009

When you’re surrounded by like-minded people, supporters and friends, those of us in ministry can sometimes be put on a pedestal. You know it’s true. You get the people who tell you that what you’re doing is so honorable and cool, how they admire you for what you do, etc etc.

I’ve kind of been out of the “ministry bubble” because I attend a church that I do not work for and this church is filled with professionals and Ivy League graduate students. Recently, I’ve realized that some of these people are NOT impressed with what I do. When they ask me what I do and I reply, I’ve gotten the response of “Oh.” No follow up questions, on to the next topic. Others have acted like directing an after school program for kids in Camden is pretty much glorified baby sitting.

I was taken aback when encountered with this snobbery. I wanted to reply in defense, “But, I’m very educated!” or “No, I am NOT a daycare director.”

I realized that a lot of people, my fellow Christians, don’t really *get* what I do. Where they see a daycare, I see leadership training.  Where they see a low paycheck, I am thankful to not raise support because I would still do what I’m doing whether they paid me or not.  

Why would I want to waste my life by hanging out with kids in the ‘hood? Because urban children’s ministry is not glorified baby sitting.   Every day I have the opportunity to impact the lives of children who have such amazing potential.  But that requires more than people realize.  It requires intelligence, a strong work ethic, and the ability to see things that are not seen.

I’m glad that I was bumped off my pedestal because it’s made me realize that even if people don’t understand why I do what I do, even if they think I’m a baby sitter or day care director, what I do is valuable and will endure.  

Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. – 1 Corinthians 15:58 –

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I’ve been serving in urban ministry for the last six years. My urban journey began while I was studying at Lee University. As an Intercultural Studies major I was required to do a ten week practicum in a cross-cultural setting. I chose Chicago because it was a cheaper option than leaving the country, although my ultimate goal in life at that time was to be a missionary overseas.

Before and during my summer on the North side of Chicago, I prayed continuously, “God, lay the foundation of my future ministry.”I spent ten weeks working with Hispanic churches in the Humbolt Park neighborhood. During my “off time” I found myself meeting a lot of random children on the street and hanging out with them, meeting their parents, taking them on day trips around the city. I was nineteen years old and in “the ghetto” and had no idea what I was doing. Seeing all of these children virtually on their own really broke my heart. I felt that there were all these sheep without a shepherd. Although it’s been ten years, those children I met that summer in Chicago left an indelible impression on my life and I still pray for some of them to this day.

However, at the end of the summer, I felt disappointed because I didn’t feel that God had laid the foundation of my future ministry, like I had so earnestly prayed. Children’s ministry was the furthest thing from my mind. I felt that children’s ministry was glorified babysitting and wanted the “real” action.I spent a year in China teaching English to children with the English Language Institute China and graduated from college.

I knew that I want to be a missionary and in ministry and what better place to study to be a missionary than the (then) School of World Mission at Fuller Theological Seminary.The two years I spent at Fuller were amazing. I was surrounded by experienced and wise missionaries from around the world and supported and encouraged by incredible faculty and staff. I experienced a lot of paradigm shifts and it was a very formative time for my life. While living in Los Angeles, I volunteered for Metro Kidz, an urban children’s ministry of The Dream Center. It was an intense time as I received brilliant academic training at Fuller and then had practical, hands on ministry experience in various housing projects in East Los Angeles.

Upon earning a Master’s of Arts in Intercultural Studies, I spent time with the missional order Urban Neighbours of Hope in Melbourne, Australia. My time with this radical group really cemented the values that I had gained while at Fuller and was a great experience of living incarnationally.By this time, fall of 2004, I realized that urban children’s ministry was the thing for me. I realized that it was not “glorified babysitting” thanks to my friends at Fuller who were just then developing a concentration for Children at Risk in their Intercultural Studies program, and organizations like Viva who were committed to networking others together on behalf of children at risk.

I often think back to that summer in Chicago and how God did answer my prayer of laying the foundation of my future ministry. Ten years ago I had no desire to live in an urban setting or work with children. And now, I couldn’t think of living my life any other way!

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When You Praise

when you praise, when you praise,
there should be a fire in your heart.
hands up raised, when you praise,
consuming every part because you know
the GOD we serve will make
his presence known, when you praise
,
when you praise.

– When You Praise, Fred Hammond –

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I don’t know why I was surprised, but we all had a lot of fun when we went to a local park on Friday afternoon. It was warmer than it had been in weeks and the kids loved running around and being away from the concrete jungle.  The kids reminded me of the fun that can be had by playing with simple things – like leaves!

 


Chillin'
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Advice to writers.

Cameron Lawrence shared from Thomas Merton’s book New Seeds of Contemplation.

“If you write for God you will reach many men and bring them joy.”

“If you write for men–you may make some money and you may give someone a little joy and you may make a noise in the world, for a little while.”

“If you write only for yourself, you can read what you yourself have written and after ten minutes you will be so disgusted you will wish that you were dead.”

*

“If a writer is so cautious that he never writes anything that cannot be criticized, he will never write anything that can be read. If you want to help other people you have got to make up your mind to write things that some men will condemn.”

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